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Wandering Student 
in the Far East 


The An tli or. 

Mr Chou. 

A Wandering 
in the Far 





"He (Dr Johnson) talked with an uncommon animation of 
travelling into distant countries ; that the mind was enlarged by- 
it, and that an acquisition of dignity of character was derived 
from it. He expressed a particular enthusiasm with respect to 
visiting the wall of China." — Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson. 



William Blackwood and Sons 
Edinburgh and London 





J. I. M. 


In writing the book which is herewith sub- 
mitted to the public, I have kept two classes 
of readers more especially in view — firstly, 
that part of the reading public which takes 
a general interest in records of travel in 
distant lands ; and secondly, that part of it 
which takes something more than an academic 
interest in the trade and enterprise of the 
people of Great Britain in foreign countries. 
To both of these classes the subjects of my 
present study — China and Japan — will, I be- 
lieve, prove the sources of no small attraction. 
China, with her vast undeveloped resources, 
her overwhelming population, and, above all, 
her uneasy but fateful movement away from 
the well-worn paths of her past and towards 



the untrodden ways of an as yet undecipher- 
able future, looms ever larger and larger upon 
the horizon of the public view; Japan, at all 
times a centre of attraction to the casual 
traveller from the West, acquires a daily 
growing interest for the people whose interests 
in Asia are, by common consent and by the 
more formal testimony of solemn treaty stip- 
ulations, inextricably interwoven with her own. 
But beyond making an appeal to the interest 
of the general reader, China provides an un- 
usual field for the enterprise of the merchant 
and manufacturer ; while the commercial and 
industrial ambitions of Japan invite from them 
the most careful consideration and the most 
serious study. Need it be added that in the 
daily moves and counter-moves of these, the 
two great forces which give to the term "Far 
East" its present undeniable significance, the 
politician will find unending and absorbing 
material for study and speculation. 

Generally speaking, volume i. will be found 
to appeal more especially, though by no means 
exclusively, to those who find pleasure in 
following a narrative of travel in unfamiliar 


and unbeaten tracks, since thirteen of its 
eighteen chapters are devoted to a descrip- 
tion of my journey across the interior of 
China. The exceptions are chapters i., iv., 
xii., xvii., and xviii., which deal with various 
matters as follows : chapter i., with the 
positions of Japan and China in the Far East 
respectively, and with the contrast which they 
present ; chapter iv., with the much-debated 
question of the navigation of the middle 
reaches of the Yang-tsze river; chapter xii., 
with the intricacies of the opium question ; 
and chapters xvii. and xviii., with the build- 
ing of the frontier between Burma and the 
Chinese Empire. 

On the other hand, volume ii. is composed 
mainly of a series of essays upon subjects of 
more especial interest to those who are them- 
selves personally interested, either directly or 
indirectly, in the development of Far Eastern 
affairs — the student, the politician, the fin- 
ancier, the merchant, and the manufacturer. 
Of the thirteen chapters composing this 
volume, nine are devoted to a critical ex- 
amination of Japan's place in the Far East. 



In such an examination narrative of travel 
finds but little place, the bulk of the space at 
my disposal being required for more serious 
discussion. The remaining four chapters — 
chapters xix.-xxii. — are concerned with such 
matters as the present attitude of China 
towards Europe, and with the existing state 
of the commerce and communications (railways) 
of the Empire, some indication also being given 
as to their probable future development. Here 
again a description of travel finds no place. 

The greater part of what is here published 
sees the light of day now for the first time. 
In one or two places, however, I have availed 
myself of the permission granted me by the 
proprietor of * Blackwood's Magazine ' and by 
the editor of 'The National Eeview,' to make 
use of matter which has already appeared in 
the columns of their respective publications. 
To these gentlemen my grateful acknow- 
ledgment is due. 1 The illustrations are in 

1 It should, perhaps, be added that at the time when I was 
writing for 1 The National Review,' I had reasons for desiring 
to preserve my anonymity. Hence my contributions to that 
periodical appeared over the signature of "Dalni Vostock." 
They were three in number, and appeared in its issues of 
September 1906, November 1906, and April 1907. 



every case, with the single exception of the 
frontispiece, reproductions of photographs taken 
by myself, and the map which accompanies 
volume i. has been specially prepared by Mr 
Edward Stanford under my own personal 
direction and supervision. 

It would not be possible to make individual 
mention of all those to whom I am indebted 
for assistance and information. I should like, 
however, to place on record my gratitude to 
the large number of Japanese manufacturers 
who so courteously conducted me over their 
mills and workshops, as well as to many 
Japanese gentlemen — official and non-official — 
in the capital and elsewhere, for their kindly 
interest and hospitality. I was especially 
fortunate in being given the opportunity of 
discussing questions of public interest with 
Prince Ito and Count Okuma in Japan, and 
with his Excellency Yuan Shikai in China. 
To Sir Claud Macdonald, H.B.M. Ambassador 
at Tokyo, my thanks are especially due for the 
ready help which he accorded me in carry- 
ing out my investigations in J apan ; and I am 
likewise indebted to Sir John Jordan, H.B.M. 
Minister at Peking, for an equal readiness to 



grant me assistance while in China. Among 
the many other officials of H.B.M. Diplomatic 
and Consular Service to whom I am indebted, 
mention must especially be made of Mr H. 
Bonar, H.B.M. Consul-General at Kobe, whose 
valuable companionship I was fortunate enough 
to secure in many of my expeditions to the 
chief centres of Japanese industrial activity; 
of Mr H. H. Fox, H.B.M. Consul at Ichang, 
Mr H. Goffe, H.B.M. Consul-General at 
Ch'engtu, and Mr W. H. Wilkinson, H.B.M. 
Consul-General in Yiin-nan, to all of whom I 
am indebted for both help and hospitality. 
I also received valuable aid from many un- 
official residents in the Far East— from Captain 
Brinkley in Tokyo, and from Dr Morrison, 
Mr Gardiner, and Mr J. 0. P. Bland in Peking, 
as well as from many members of the British 
mercantile community resident in Shanghai, 
Hankow, and Tientsin, and from the officials 
of the Chinese Imperial Maritime Customs 
Service. Nor must I omit to mention the 
kindness of the many members of the Mis- 
sionary Societies with whom I came into 
contact in many parts of the Chinese Empire. 



In such different towns as Mukden, Niu- 
chwang, Ch'ung-k'ing, Ch'engtu, Chia-ting Fu, 
Sui Fu, Chao-t'ung Fu, Tung-ch'uan Fu, 
Ylin-nan Fu, and Tali Fu, I encountered 
members of the missionary community, from 
all of whom I received a cordial hospitality 
and much valuable information. 

October 1908. 












v. ch'ung-k'ing . . . .93 

vi. ch'ung-k'ing to tzu-liu-ching . . 108 

vii. tzu-liu-ching to ch'engtu . . .122 

viii. ch'engtu . . . . .136 
IX. ch'engtu to sui fu . . .153 

X. SUI FU TO YUN-NAN FU . . 163 

XI. YUN-NAN FU . . . .188 





XIV. TALI FU . . . . 235 
XV. TALI FU TO T'ENG YUEH . . . 247 








peter, the author. MR chou . Frontispiece 







RENT ....... 68 


SOLEMN GARB ...... 72 


























At end 



"We have also to include in the definition of Central Asia the 
"Western territories of the Great Empire of China, that mysterious 
and inscrutable dominion which in its age is never old, in its decay is 
never feeble, and in its revolutions is never scattered. In the exam- 
ination of the Chinese problem alone there is sufficient material to 
occupy attention for a great number of years." 

— Lord Curzon of Kedleston : Speech to the Members 
of the Central Asian Society, May 20, 1908. 

"It is time to drop the licence of exaggeration, and, with the 
light of common day, yet with sympathy and without prejudice, seek 
to know what Dai Nippon is and has been." 

— W. E. Griffis, A.M. : The Mikado's Empire. 

VOL. I. 




The passage from the nineteenth to the 
twentieth century has been marked by many 
events of immense importance to the human 
race. Many years hence historians will no doubt 
give their decision as to the relative import- 
ance of the various movements which have 
characterised the past decade, and which have 
provided the outward and visible signs of the 
mysterious onward flowing current — call it 
evolution or what you will — which is for ever 
sweeping peoples and kingdoms along the road 
to an unknown goal. It would be rash, indeed, 
to endeavour to anticipate the verdict of 
posterity, but this at least may be foretold, 
that no historian dealing with the closing years 


of the nineteenth century and the opening 
years of the twentieth century will be able to 
minimise the vast importance to the world at 
large of the remarkable change which has 
taken place during that period in the relations 
between the peoples of the East and those of 
the West. 

The whole outlook upon life of the people of 
Asia is undergoing a process of transformation : 
they are beginning to look to the future 
instead of dwelling in the past. The restless 
spirit of modern industrial competition is war- 
ring with the comfortable fatalism which has 
for centuries enslaved the men of the devout 
and contemplative East. Asia has always 
displayed a passionate reverence for the past, 
and it is not too much to say — of China at any 
rate — that she has existed for centuries in a 
state of voluntary bondage to the dead. The 
worship of ancestors has been the keystone of 
the religion of the races of the Far East, and 
throughout the Asiatic Continent the highest 
expression of the genius and art of her children 
is to be found in monuments raised to the 
memory of her illustrious dead — the Taj Mahal 



at Agra, the tomb of Tamerlane at Samarkand, 
the beautiful mausolea of the Shoguns at 
Tokyo and Nikko. 

But the chains that bind her to the dead are 
being loosened ; with the spread of modern 
education are rising new thoughts and new 
ideals, her gaze is slowly being directed away 
from the immutability of the past to the pos- 
sibilities of the future. A force of incalculable 
potentiality for influencing the destinies of the 
world has been given birth, and it is no longer 
possible to ignore the immense significance of 
the movement which, beginning in the extreme 
East, is sweeping back over Asia and leaving 
an indelible mark upon every country in its 
flight. Japan has already emancipated herself 
from the fetters of Oriental fatalism and 
inaction — with what startling results we 
already know. China stirs uneasily with the 
child national assertion in her womb. In India 
agitation seethes and bubbles and takes fever- 
ish hold of any weakness which the ruling 
Power displays. Persia, until recent years the 
home of the luxury and splendour, the pomp 
and pageantry, the unfettered and illimitable 


egoism of an irresponsible and unchallenged 
absolutism, is even now in travail, with every 
prospect of giving birth to a deformed carica- 
ture of constitutional government. In Egypt 
the cry of nationality trembles in the air, while 
in Turkey the passage from autocracy to repre- 
sentative government has been effected with 
such bewildering rapidity, and with such an 
astonishing absence of friction, that it is diffi- 
cult to grasp the fact that so unexampled and 
so unlooked-for a change has in very truth 
been brought about. From all quarters come 
indications that the Eastern question of the 
future is assuming a new phase, in which the 
rivalries and jealousies of European Powers are 
falling more and more into the background 
before the rapidly growing ambitions and aspir- 
ations of the Eastern races themselves. 

It is in the Far East that this new movement 
has had its origin, and it is in the Far East 
that its progress may be most profitably 
studied, and it is to the countries of the Far 
East consequently — China, Korea, and Japan — 
that the pages that follow are almost exclus- 
ively restricted. The greater part of the 



material used in their composition was collected 
in the course of thirteen consecutive months 
of travel, and a not inconsiderable portion of 
the whole is devoted to the narrative of a 
journey across China from the Pacific seaboard 
to the Burmese frontier. 

My primary object, however, has been to 
give the public the results of my investigations 
rather than a mere description of the incidents 
of journeys which it has been necessary to 
undertake in order to carry such investiga- 
tions through, and descriptive narrative of the 
greater part of the six or seven months spent 
in travelling over the less inaccessible regions 
of the Far East, such as North China, Man- 
churia, Korea, and Japan, has necessarily been 
omitted, or, where not altogether omitted, 
compressed to the narrowest possible dimen- 
sions. I propose, therefore, to take the oppor- 
tunity provided by an introductory chapter 
to say a few words from the general point of 
view of the traveller in Far Eastern lands. 

On first acquaintance it is, perhaps, the 
contrast which the lands of East Asia present 
to those of the Near East and Central Asia 


that most forcibly strikes the traveller who is 
acquainted with those regions. In Japan 
abundant water and a humid atmosphere have 
clothed the country with a mantle of tropical 
luxuriance and created in the Eastern Sea a 
world of fragrant flowers and riotous vegeta- 
tion, the very antithesis of the harsh outlines 
and sun -scorched deserts of Western Asia. 
Here is a land that is kissed, not scourged, by 
the sun. Here, too, the gentle and kindly 
nature of the people testifies to the peaceful 
influence of Buddhism, contrasting strongly 
with the fierce fanaticism of Western Asia 
inspired by the militant creed of Mohammed. 
The humble worshipper at the shrine of his 
ancestors, the aesthetic acolyte chanting with 
monotonous iteration the meaningless " Namu 
Amida Butsu " of the Buddhic liturgy, has 
little in common with the perfervid apostle of 
Islam : the intricate and ingenious architecture 
of the one contrasts markedly with the grand 
and simple conceptions of the other. 

Nor is the difference of the two creeds of 
East and West Asia less marked in its effects 
upon the social life of the people. " You 



should know," wrote Ser Marco Polo six 
centuries ago, " that the Tartars, before they 
were converted to the religion of the idolaters 
(i.e., Buddhism), never practised almsgiving. 
Indeed, when any poor man begged of them, 
they would tell him, 1 Go, with God's curse, for 
if he loved you as he loves me, he would 
have provided for you.' " Moreover, the stern 
law that in Mohammedan countries relegates 
one-half of humanity to a rigid and perpetual 
self-effacement behind the prison walls of the 
zenana, finds no counterpart in the tolerant 
code of Buddhism, and in town and country 
alike woman plays a prominent and conspic- 
uous part in the daily life of the people. That 
the condition of woman has been vastly im- 
proved by the spread of Buddhist ideas is 
admitted even by members of the Christian 
missionary community, as instance the case 
of Father Bigaudet in Siam, who found in the 
Buddhist teaching a meritorious disapproval of 
polygamy, though he deprecated its culpable 
tolerance of divorce, in which respect he 
declared the habits of the people to be of 
" a damnable laxity." 


Yet despite such dissimilarity of creed and 
setting, there is among the peoples of Asia a 
certain affinity of thought, certain kindred 
characteristics, observing which the stranger 
from across the seas may say, " This is the 
East." The unabashed indecency of the bazaars 
of Western and Central Asia finds its counter- 
part in the frank disregard of convention dis- 
played in the country districts of Japan, where 
life and social intercourse proceed innocently, if 
immodestly according to Western canons, upon 
the assumption that though the serpent tempted, 
the woman did not eat of the tree of knowledge 
in the Garden of Eden. The woman gives suck 
to her child in the street, the village maid 
bathes in company with the village hodge, and 
these things present no cause for offence, because 
in the eyes of the people there is no offence 
in them. Again, if the traveller in Persia or 
Turkestan is brought into perpetual contact 
with an unyielding and irritating resistance 
to hurry, the wanderer in Far Eastern lands 
becomes early conscious of the fact that he is 
moving in a world where all thought and action 
are characterised chiefly by a profound and 


imperturbable deliberation. Nor will it be long 
before old memories are revived with a vigour 
and force which surprise, until it be remembered 
that " memory, imagination, old sentiments and 
associations, are more readily reached through 
the sense of smell than by almost any other 
channel." 1 There are few villages in China, or 
in Japan at the season for manuring the crops, 
which do not recall the supreme efforts in this 
direction of Baghdad or Bokhara. Finally, East 
and West Asia alike vie with one another in 
proclaiming the existence of that strange and 
mysterious law by which it appears to have 
been decreed that among the peoples of the 
West alone shall the sanctity of truth meet 
with respect or recognition. 

Of this homogeneousness of atmosphere I 
have invariably been conscious when travelling 
in Eastern lands ; and it was, perhaps, because a 
tolerably extended acquaintance with the men 
and manners of many Asian countries had 
taught me to accept it without question or 
reserve that certain symptoms of innovation 
struck forcibly upon my imagination as I 

1 The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table (0. W. Holmes). 


travelled through the country districts of Japan. 
Schools presented a conspicuous feature in every 
corner of the country — not the schools dear to 
the literati of China or the mullahs of Islam, 
but modern, up-to-date, twentieth - century 
schools, where the knowledge and learning of 
the West is fast being imparted to the children 
of the East. I remember one day meeting a 
number of small boys returning from a village 
school in a district far removed from the 
influence of railways and big cities. On my 
approaching them they drew up to attention 
with military precision and bowed ceremoniously 
to me as I passed. I was somewhat puzzled to 
find a reason for this spontaneous display, and 
subsequently learned that the cause was to be 
found in the cut of my clothes. I was dressed 
after the manner of the West, and was therefore 
an object of respect. You ask why ? Because 
the Japanese are the most sensitive people in 
the world ; because the day has already dawned 
when much that is artistic and characteristic of 
real Japan must be sacrificed at the altar of 
progress ; because Europeanisation is the fetich 
of the day ; and because European clothes are 



the hall-mark of progress and modernity in the 
gentlemen of New Japan. Is it not forbidden 
to the ladies of Japan to present themselves at 
Court in J apanese dress ? 

Nor is it only the boys that attend the schools 
in this year of grace 1908 ; for the schoolgirl in 
magenta hakama, with satchel and books in 
hand, walking blithely to the nearest academy, 
is the rule rather than the exception of to-day 
— and a vastly significant one in an Eastern 
country. And if we turn to statistics regarding 
education, we find that they more than confirm 
the deductions of casual observation. Thus in 
1885, 77 per cent of the boys and 44 per cent 
of the girls of school age were attending school 
— figures which had increased twenty years later 
to 98 and 93 per cent respectively. During 
the school year 1905 (the latest for which 
figures are obtainable), £3,821,660 was spent 
on public education ; and 5,841,302, or 96 
per cent of the children, boys and girls 
combined, of school age were recorded as 
receiving elementary education. 1 

1 The figures are taken from the Thirty-third Annual 
Eeport of the Minister of State for Education. 


There is another, a powerful — perhaps a 
sinister — influence eating slowly but surely 
into the old communal life of the people, — the 
influence of modern industrial requirement. 
Already thousands of women and children 
are toiling wearily in factory and workshop, 
attending mechanically to the great steam- 
driven spindles and looms which are slowly but 
inexorably crushing the life out of the old 
family hand - machines on which were made 
the exquisite fabrics embodying the artistic 
soul of Japan. Unguarded and uncared for 
by a kindly legislation, their lot is far from 
being an enviable one. No factory acts grace 
the statute-book of Japan. "We have our 
duty before us," say the manufacturers, " to 
establish ourselves firmly upon the world's 
markets. Let us get our hold of them before 
we are tied and handicapped by Government 
interference." Such was the fervent aspiration 
which I heard breathed by more than one manu- 
facturer, — an aspiration which would appear 
to have every chance of being fulfilled, since 
only so lately as August 1906 the Japanese 
Government refused an invitation to send 



delegates to an international conference at 
Berne, held with a view to prohibiting night 
work by women, on the grounds that the state 
of the industries in the country did not admit 
of such interference. 

True, the women and children may smile over 
their work as the casual visitor passes to and fro 
among the whirring creels or the crashing looms ; 
but then the Japanese smile is an enigmatical 
thing, and, as has been written, "the Japanese 
can smile in the teeth of death, and usually 
does." One must know something of the pos- 
sibilities of the Japanese smile if one is to 
appraise it at its true value. " At first it only 
charms, and it is only at a later day when one 
has observed the same smile under extraordinary 
circumstances — in moments of pain, shame, dis- 
appointment — that one becomes suspicious of 
it." 1 Some day the workers of Japan will rise 
and will demand for themselves the same rights 
and privileges already conceded to their fellow- 
workers of the West — but the day is not yet. 
Before that time comes Japan will have dis- 
pelled once and for all the illusion that she is 

1 Lafcadio Hearn. 


a trifler in toy lanterns and paper fans, and 
will have vindicated her claim to be regarded 
as one of the manufacturing nations of the 

Herein, then, we become conscious of a subtle 
change. Some new influence pervades the 
otherwise familiar atmosphere of the East. 
The presence of a new force makes itself felt, 
— a disturbing force, perhaps a dangerous force, 
but in any case a force fraught with fateful 
possibilities, — the force of national assertion, 
fostered by a growing desire among Eastern 
peoples for the liberty, the equality, the demo- 
cratisation of the West, and rendered formid- 
able by the acquisition of the applied sciences 
of Europe. As the true signification of the 
new signs and portents in the East dawns 
upon the mind, it gradually becomes clear 
that a new order of things is arising which 
is destined to give a new turn to the course 
of history and to provide the dominating 
element in the evolution of mankind during 
the twentieth century. 

As the pioneer in the new movement, Japan 
presents at the present time a subject for 


grave study. For her the past half-century 
has been one of violent and incessant change. 
From a period of stress and storm, when the 
land was racked by revolution and civil war 
from within and menaced with violent inter- 
ference from without, has emerged the Japan 
of to - day, — a force utterly unsuspected and 
unforeseen, an Asiatic Power wielding with 
unexampled skill and precision the weapons 
and inventions of the collective genius of the 
West. "What may be the psychic effect of 
such volcanic change upon the mind and 
thought of an Eastern people lies hidden 
from Western eyes deep down in the inscrut- 
able soul of the race : this only may be affirmed 
without question or hesitation, that no one 
who has had the opportunity of coming into 
close contact with Government or people can 
fail to be deeply impressed with a sense of 
the growing ambitions of the people, or of 
the inflexible determination of those in high 
places to do everything in their power to 
assist them in bringing such ambitions to 
fruition. Forced in the teeth of their own 
determined and strenuous opposition to open 

VOL. I. B 


their doors to the world and to enter into 
the comity of Western nations, they came to 
a momentous decision, and having decided, 
picked up the gauntlet which had been thrown 
down with a rapidity which astonished the 
world, and plunged headlong, and with alto- 
gether unlooked-for success, into the arena of 
international rivalry and competition. 

That they regard their victories in battle 
merely as a means to an end, and not as an 
end in themselves, must be evident to any 
one who has had the opportunity of making 
even a superficial study of the country. Noth- 
ing is more galling to the susceptibilities of 
the educated Japanese than to find themselves 
the object of erroneous supposition upon this 
point. " On what grounds," asks Baron Shibu- 
sawa bitterly, " did I meet with so warm a 
reception at the hands of the prominent men 
of the world ? " — and he himself supplies the 
unpalatable reply : " The President of the 
United States praised Japan because of her 
military ]3rowess and fine arts. Are not 
Germany, France, and England praising Japan 
up to the skies on the same ground ? If the 



warm reception I received abroad is based on 
the feeling that I came from a country known 
for its military exploits, I must confess that 
that reception is a death - blow to our 
hopes." 1 

The end, indeed, which the Japanese keep 
steadfastly in view is a far higher one than 
mere proficiency in arms, and does not stop 
short of political, diplomatic, commercial, in- 
dustrial, and colonial equality with the first 
Powers of the Western world. That they 
have learned all that the West can teach them 
in the conduct of modern war few will be 
found to deny ; but that they are capable of 
rising to the same heights in the war of com- 
merce has yet to be revealed. It may well be 
doubted whether as a race they have the same 
aptitude for bearing aloft the flag of trade as 
they have for wielding the sword of war. Just 
as in China the military profession was de- 
spised and looked down upon by the people, — 
with what dire results the battlefields of 1894 
soon showed, — so in feudal Japan the mer- 
chant classes were rated the lowest of the 

1 Japan by the Japanese. 


community. It is true that many of the 
best men in Japan are now entering or have 
already entered the commercial lists, and are 
showing themselves worthy of the best tradi- 
tions of the West ; but it is equally true that 
the country is sending forth vast numbers of 
small traders who reflect only too clearly the 
status of their kind of pre-restoration days, 
and whose procedure in neutral markets is 
fast pinning to their country's traders the 
title of the pedlars of the East. Pedlary in 
itself may be an honourable trade, but ped- 
lary fraught with petty fraud and supported 
by devices which debauch the commercial 
standards of the West, brings little but ob- 
loquy upon the country's name and fame, and 
provides an only too obvious cause for the 
enemy to blaspheme. " The barrier of a low 
morality," to make use of the words of Baron 
Shibusawa once more, " is by far stronger than 
that of bad laws " ; and I hold that he is the 
better friend of Japan who makes candid con- 
fession of such shortcomings as are thrust within 
the radius of his view, rather than the plaus- 
ible advocate who, by ignoring or denying all 



faults, encourages the nefarious in their ways, 
and disseminates impressions which the cold 
and impartial evidence of fact is unable to 
sustain. When those who are responsible for 
the course and direction of Japanese progress 
succeed in inculcating in all classes a due 
sense of the immense value of an unimpeach- 
able honesty in every branch of commercial 
intercourse, they will have succeeded in re- 
moving a serious stumbling-stone from the 
path which the nation is striving to pursue, 
and will have placed their country immeasur- 
ably nearer the attainment of the goal which 
they keep^steadfastly in view. 

Japan, then, has, with an astonishing rapid- 
ity, become a powerful force in the world's 
economy ; but will the metamorphosis of Japan 
continue to be the only, or even the most 
significant, feature of the new order in the 
Far East ? If commercial and industrial 
rivalry is more and more to take the place 
of the rude panoply of war — as who can 
doubt must be the case ? — there are in China 
potentialities before which the possibilities of 
Japan pale into insignificance. Against an 


area of 147,467 square miles in the case of 
Japan, 1 China can boast of territory not far 
short of 4,000,000 square miles in extent : 
against Japan's 49,000,000 1 of population, 
China can probably pit 400,000,000 souls. In 
the matter of natural resources there is no 
comparison between the two countries, as may 
be seen from a glance at the opening pages 
of the following chapter, in which I have 
given, in faint outline, some suggestion of 
the almost incalculable wealth of China in 
this respect. Moreover, just as the aptitude 
of the Japanese as a people is for war rather 
than for commerce, so the philosophy of the 
Chinese has condemned and despised the pro- 
fession of arms and applauded the pursuit of 
more peaceful avocations. The Samurai is 
the archetype of the Japanese gentleman ; 
Bushido — the Fighting - knight ways — the ac- 
cepted code of his conduct and honour. " In 
early youth the Samurai was put to the task 
of bearing and daring. Boys, and girls also, 
were trained in a Lacedemonian fashion to 

1 Exclusive of Formosa and the Pescadores. 

A link with the past. 


endure privation of all kinds." 1 The Japanese, 
in short, are a fighting race who have scorned 
the haggle of the market and sworn fealty to 
the god of war. The character of the Chinese 
is in this respect the antithesis of the char- 
acter of the people of Japan. "Tzu Kung 
asked for a definition of good government. 
The Master (Confucius) replied : It consists in 
providing enough food to eat, in keeping 
enough soldiers to guard the State, and in 
winning the confidence of the people. — And 
if one of these things had to be sacrificed, 
which should go first ? — The Master replied : 
Sacrifice the soldiers." 2. The high standard 
of commercial morality attaining in China is 
admitted on all hands, and their reputation 
for integrity in all matters appertaining to 
trade is in strong contrast to the ill odour 
in which Japanese traders are held among 
European merchants carrying on their busi- 
ness in the Far East. A German merchant 
told me that he frequently entered into con- 
tracts with Chinese merchants involving as 

1 Professor Inazo Nitobe. 2 The Analects of Confucius. 


much as 50,000 dollars, without any written 
or signed document being made use of at all ; 
and this is typical of commercial intercourse 
between Europeans and Chinese. The com- 
mercial class in China is composed of shrewd 
hard-headed business men, to whom the ac- 
cumulation of wealth is as the breath of life, 
and these men are beginning to realise the 
magnificent prospects which are held out by 
the organisation of industry. Who will ven- 
ture to assign a limit to the influence of a 
reorganised China, with free play given to the 
commercial and industrial instinct of the race, 
upon the position of the trading and manu- 
facturing nations of the world ? 

The position which China must inevitably 
acquire some day will not be won with the same 
startling rapidity with which J apan pressed home 
her claims to the title of a first-class Power. 
There are too many factors which will war 
against the reconstruction of Chinese society 
and the Chinese State, and which will act as 
clogs upon the wheels of Chinese progress. 
Loyalty to and adoration of the Sovereign, 
which bind the people of Japan into a united 



whole, is wanting in the case of China, for 
the scion of an alien race sits upon the throne 
of the Mings. The vast extent of Chinese 
territory is in itself a sufficient bar to rapid 
consolidation, either of interests or of aims ; 
still more must the variety of race and of 
language war against the rapid evolution of 
a national movement towards a single goal. 
The practical man, then, while he does not 
lose sight of the possibilities of the future, 
will recognise that he has yet to deal with 
the present, and in those chapters in which 
I have attempted to deal with the trade and 
industry of China I have been careful to 
restrict myself to an examination of the facts 
as they are to-day, and to refrain from indulg- 
ing in what can only be a speculative analysis 
of a more or less remote future. It is perhaps 
for this reason that there will not be found 
in the pages that follow quite so attractive an 
estimate of the prospects of Chinese trade, or 
of enterprise in China, as has sometimes been 
held out by those who have written upon the 
subject. The disadvantageous conditions under 
which the renovation of China is being brought 


about has been kept steadfastly in sight, and 
due weight given to the improbability of 
sudden change. The startling rapidity of the 
development of Japan as compared with that 
of China is emphasised by a mere comparison 
of the respective amounts of their foreign 
trade. Thus in 1907 the foreign trade of 
Japan, with a population of under 49 millions, 
amounted to approximately 94f million ster- 
ling, or only 18 million less than the foreign 
trade of China with a population of 400 
millions. 1 This is a fact of which many are 

There are many other matters of interest 
connected with the Far East of which the 
general public in England are unaware, and 
which might be urged as an excuse for adding 
yet another to the by no means inconsiderable 
number of books already in existence upon the 
Far East. How many people are aware, for 
instance, that Hong Kong is the first shipping 

1 In 1898 the foreign trade of China amounted to £53,180,000, 
and that of Japan to £47,914,000. The figures for the year 
1907 were— China £112,686,000, and Japan £94,619,022. It 
is interesting to observe that in the ten years the foreign trade 
of each country has approximately doubled. 


port in the world, 1 or that in Peking there are 
eight postal deliveries daily ? Nor is a lack 
of exact knowledge concerning the men and 
manners of the Far East peculiar to the general 
public. A pathetic display of ignorance on the 
part of his Majesty's Government in London is 
generally to be expected whenever Parliament 
is so ill advised as to meddle with Far East- 
ern affairs. Take, for example, the following 
question and answer between a private member 
of the House of Commons and a member of 
the Government, on June 25, 1906 : — 

" Sir H. Cotton asked whether the words 
' Tremblingly obey ' were only used in China 
in prohibitive proclamations, and not in pro- 
clamations purporting to make concessions ? " 

Mr Churchill — " The honourable member 
speaks with immense and exceptional authority 
on these questions, and I think that it is quite 
possible that what he says is correct. Speak- 
ing for myself, I should say that no commands 

1 The order of the chief shipping ports of the world varies 
from year to year. Hong Kong headed the list in 1905 with 
entrances and clearances aggregating 21,843,131 tons, and was 
fourth in 1896 with 19,833,666 tons, Antwerp heading the list 
on this occasion with an aggregate of 21,676,118 tons. 


should be addressed to law-abiding citizens 
which they cannot obey without trepida- 

The solemn spectacle of a member of Parlia- 
ment speaking with " immense and exceptional 
authority on these questions" inviting a 
member of the British Government to enter 
into a serious discussion as to the merits or 
demerits of a formal phrase commonly attached 
to official proclamations in China, would be 
distinctly humorous if it was not so pathetic. 
What was merely pathetic became deplorable 
when it was asserted in the House of Commons 
a few days later that, as a result of the above 
discussion, the Secretary of State for the 
Colonies had given instructions for the issue 
of an amended proclamation for the benefit of 
the Chinese coolies in South Africa, in which 
" all minatory and hortatory sentences would 
be omitted " ! Displays of this kind do not 
tend to heighten the respect in which Govern- 
ments whose responsibilities are world-wide 
are, or ought to be, held. 

This, however, is a digression, though it 
serves to show the extent of the ignorance 



concerning the Far East of those who ought 
to know better. 

To sum up. The twentieth century has 
lifted the curtain on a Far East presenting for 
solution problems of unparalleled magnitude 
and of incalculable importance to Europe and 
America. Two nations are engaged in rough- 
hewing the destiny of Asia. Japan, a conquer- 
ing and colonising nation, is engaged in a grim 
endeavour to become an industrial and com- 
mercial Power : China, the home of a peace- 
loving, trading people, is groping blindly after 
proficiency in arms. If the Japanese are 
successful in cultivating in the fighting classes 
a love and aptitude for commerce, without at 
the same time impairing their fighting quali- 
ties, then it may be predicted that, despite the 
comparative poverty of their natural resources, 
they will become a great people ; but it is 
worth remembering that up to the present 
time the history of the world can provide no 
example of an Eastern race which has found it 
possible to cultivate in the same class both the 
love of commerce and the love of fighting. As 
far as the Chinese are concerned, it will prob- 


ably prove sufficient for their purpose if they 
are successful in organising a fighting machine 
sufficiently powerful, in reputation and in fact, 
to make it unworth the while of other nations 
to attack them. With the advent of the 
present century the partition of China among 
the Powers has passed from the realm of prac- 
tical politics, and formal record of her policy 
of preserving the integrity of the Chinese 
Empire has been registered by Great Britain 
in her latest treaty of alliance with Japan. 
The scheme for the reorganisation of the 
Chinese army, which has been described by 
European military experts as being, as far as 
its paper provisions are concerned, above criti- 
cism, provides for an army of 36 divisions of 
12,000 men each (432,000 men) by the year 
1917. There are at the present time at least 
100,000 troops drilled and equipped on modern 
lines, and though their fighting efficiency is 
impaired by the fact that they are armed with 
divers patterns of rifles — Japanese, Mauser, 
and Marmlicher — and Japanese, Krupp, and 
Kreusot guns, and that some at least of the 
necessary accessories of war exist on paper 



only, 1 yet even now they present a sufficiently 
formidable force to prevent any one from 
lightly taking np arms against them. I do not 
believe in the existence of a Chinese army for 
purposes other than those of securing the 
nation against undue interference with its 
internal affairs at the hands of foreign 

The questions discussed in the following chap- 
ters are consequently those of the develop- 
ment of China under the new conditions which 
recent years have brought, and especially the 
construction of railways, since this is at the 
present time the chief instrument which is 
being employed in opening up the country ; of 
the prospects of future trade between China 
and Great Britain, with special reference to the 
provinces of Western China ; of the settlement 
of frontier problems arising out of the juxta- 
position of China with British Burma; of the 
politico-moral problem arising out of the opium 
traffic ; and finally, of the future of Japan as a 

1 At the much boomed manoeuvres of 1905, for instance, an 
inquisitive visitor found the dressing-station useless owing to 
the fact that it possessed no bandages. 


Great Power in the Orient. Let me, however, 
before entering upon the more serious discus- 
sion of such matters, invite the reader to 
accompany me upon a journey across the heart 
of the Chinese Empire. 



" The principal advantage of travel must be the opportunity which 
it affords us of becoming acquainted with human nature ; know- 
ledge, of course, chiefly gained where human beings most congre- 
gate — great cities and the courts of princes : still, one of its great 
benefits is that it enlarges a man's experience, not only of his fellow- 
creatures in particular, but of nature in general. Many men pass 
through life without seeing a sunrise ; a traveller cannot." 

— Lord Beaconsfield. 

"Through the midst of this great city [Ch'engtu] runs a large 
river. It is a good half-mile wide, and very deep withal, and so long 
that it reaches all the way to the Ocean Sea — a very long way, equal 
to 80 or 100 days' journey. And the name of the river is Kian-suy. 
The multitude of vessels that navigate this river is so vast, that no 
one who should read or hear the tale would believe it. The quan- 
tities of merchandise also which merchants carry up and down this 
river are past all belief. In fact, it is so big that it seems to be a sea 
rather than a river ! " — The Book of Ser Marco Polo. 

VOL. I. 




Shanghai is an example of one of the curious 
anomalies which have been generated by the 
collision of Western progress with Eastern 
stagnancy. It presents, indeed, an astonish- 
ing phenomenon, a European city — not unfit 
to be the capital of many a European country 
— dumped down on a Chinese mud- flat. The 
mud-flat is still the property of China, who 
receives ground - rent from the foreigner who 
has spread his palatial mansions over it; but 
beyond receiving this consideration she has 
little say in the management of the settlement, 
which entrusts a municipal council with the 
conduct of its affairs. Shanghai is, in fact, an 
independent republic with a government of its 


own, which treats all other authorities with 
whom it is brought into contact — Chinese 
provincial officials, foreign consuls, the lega- 
tions at Peking — as so many external bodies 
to be met and dealt with upon terms of 

That it flourishes amazingly is a fact beyond 
dispute. Prosperity — arrogance the Chinese of 
to-day, flushed with his new-born spirit of 
nationality, would probably say — stares you in 
the face as you steam up the Whang-poo river 
lined with vast piles of modern architecture. 
Sir Henry Norman thought that at first sight 
Shanghai was superior to New York, far ahead 
of San Francisco, and almost as imposing as 
Liverpool itself. And it has increased prodig- 
iously since Sir Henry Norman first cast his 
gaze upon it. At that time there were barely 
5000 foreign residents ; now there are upwards 
of 17,000. The first five years of the twentieth 
century saw an immense impetus given to the 
settlement, the foreign population nearly treb- 
ling itself in that time. Values have gone up 
in a way well calculated to delight the heart of 
the speculator in land. Plots on the river- 

A street in Shanghai. 


front which were sold at fifty or sixty dollars 
a mow in the early days when the first 
committee of roads and jetties was formed 
(1844), are worth as many thousands to-day. 
It is estimated that Great Britain alone has 
here vested interests of the huge value of 

The astute business man of China soon real- 
ised the advantage of living under equitable 
government, and, contrary to the intentions 
of its founders, flocked into the settlement. 
To-day the Chinese lady, decked in her most 
splendid satins and silks, may be seen driving 
in her smart victoria along Bubbling Well 
Eoad, while the Chinese gentleman bowls gaily 
along in his latest pattern motor-car from 
Europe. With this influx of Chinese into the 
republic, the question of courts of law for so 
mixed a community, accustomed to codes of 
law so widely divergent as those of China and 
Europe, presented itself for solution, and gave 
rise to the establishment in 1863 of a " Mixed 
Court" for the trial of Chinese in cases in 
which foreigners were involved, the Chinese 
magistrates being assisted in their functions by 


a foreign assessor. Out of a dispute between 
the municipality and the Chinese magistrates 
of the " Mixed Court " as to the custody of 
certain prisoners, there arose in December 
1905 a riot known to history as the " Mixed 
Court" riot. Perhaps increasing sensitiveness 
on the part of the Chinese at the glaring suc- 
cess of the foreigner at his gates was to some 
degree responsible for this upheaval, which 
necessitated the landing of blue-jackets and 
marines. If that be so, the most interesting 
outcome of the trouble is to be found in yet 
one more anomaly, in strict keeping with the 
anomaly provided by the existence of Shanghai 
itself — namely, the creation of a Chinese volun- 
teer corps upon European pattern, which has, 
at its own request, sought to be embodied in 
the foreign corps. Thus does China and non- 
China combine and interact under foreign 
governance upon Chinese soil. 

The importance of Shanghai as a commercial 
port is sufficiently demonstrated by a glance 
at its trade returns. In 1906 its shipping 
(inward and outward) aggregated 17 i million 
tons, while the gross value of its trade was 



421,956,496 Hk. Tls., equivalent to £69,500,000. 
It is, indeed, a vast commercial emporium at 
which the products of European and American 
factories are first collected before being dis- 
tributed to the consumers of China, and for 
this very reason it is not here that the would- 
be investigator will find material for forming a 
just estimate of the future of China, commercial, 
industrial, or political : Shanghai, in other words, 
is not China, it is an exotic which flourishes 
because it is not subjected to Chinese condi- 
tions. To form any adequate idea of China, 
the inquirer must leave the foreign settlements 
which dot the coast -line and travel into the 
interior of this vast empire. There he may 
observe for himself the manner of life of the 
real Chinese, — the teeming millions who live 
the immemorial life of China, as distinct from 
the men of the coast, who rub shoulders daily 
with peoples thinking other thoughts and 
observing a different mode of life from them- 
selves. He will live among the Chinese people 
and learn for himself the nature of their re- 
quirements, and their ability or otherwise to 
satisfy them. He will come into contact, to 


put the case into the phraseology of the 
economists, with the outstanding features of 
Chinese demand and supply, and he will be 
enabled to form some idea of the probable and 
possible demand of the Chinese for commodities 
which they cannot themselves supply, and of 
the extent of their purchasing capacity. 

Nowadays, too, he will come into contact 
with a new belief, — new, that is to say, as far 
as China is concerned, — the belief of a people 
in a national destiny. In the treaty ports 
much may be heard of a new China, but much 
that is met with in the treaty ports is mere 
froth and bubble ; and to be real, the spirit of 
regeneration must be found moving among 
the people, in the villages and in the country 
towns hidden away from the eye of Europe 
in the dim recesses of the inland provinces, 
severed from the outer world by hundreds and 
even thousands of miles of medieval communica- 
tions — unimaginable cart roads and tortuous 
coolie tracks. If new forces are found stirring 
the quiet and stagnation which for centuries 
have brooded over these back-waters of the 
great onward - flowing current of the world's 



progress, then we may begin to view the 
problems presented by a renovated China in 
the light of problems at last within the range 
of the practical, and destined to have immense 
influence upon our own future. And when we 
have grasped something of the significance of 
the movement, and realised — to quote the 
words of Dr Martin — that "its object is not 
a changed dynasty nor a revolution in the 
form of Government, but that, with higher 
aim and deeper motive, it promises nothing 
short of the complete renovation of the oldest, 
most populous, and most conservative of 
Empires," then we may face with all the 
seriousness which the case demands the gigantic 
possibilities which are opened out in connection 
with the future relations of East and West. 
When we begin to sum up the assets of China, — 
its 400,000,000 of frugal and industrious people, 
its incalculable mineral wealth scattered boun- 
teously over a compact territory nearly half as 
large again as the United States of America, its 
variety of soil and climate, its immense rivers 
and vast sea-board, — we need not feel surprised 
if the mind is staggered at the thought of 


what a regenerated China may mean to pos- 
terity. 1 Even the present generation will see 

1 On May 13, 1908, President Eoosevelt, in a powerful speech 
at a conference of the Governors of the States of the Union, 
denounced the prodigality with which the wealth of natural 
resources of the United States was being squandered. I extract 
a single sentence only : " We began with coal-fields more ex- 
tensive than those of any other nation and with iron ores 
regarded as inexhaustible, and many experts now declare that 
the end of both iron and coal is in sight." Contrast with this 
state of affairs the case of China. Here natural resources, 
immensely greater in all probability than those of the United 
States, are being sedulously hoarded up for a future generation. 
Baron von Richthofen has spoken with authority upon the 
mineral deposits of China. Again let me give but a single 
quotation : " I was not a little surprised to find the southern 
half of the province [Shansi] . . . constituting one great coal- 
field of incredible wealth ; . . . and besides, the seams ac- 
companied by beds of excellent iron ore in abundance, and a 
variety of clays fit for many technical purposes. . . . All the 
conditions required for enhancing the value of a coal-field are 
here combined in such a remarkable manner as to make the 
extraction of a very superior coal easier and cheaper than in 
any other known instance. . . . And the quantity of coal 
available for this cheap extraction is so large, that at the 
present rate of consumption the world could be supplied from 
south Shansi alone for several thousand years." (See 'Ocean 
Highways/ New Series, vol. i. p. 314.) At Ta Yeh, to give 
but one other example of the enormous mineral wealth of the 
empire, stands a mountain of iron ore 3 miles long and 400 feet 
high, capable of supplying 700 tons of iron a-day for a thousand 
years. Yet we find " worn-out London horse-shoes coming out 



vast changes in East Asia, and it was with 
my mind full of such thoughts as are suggested 
by considerations of this kind that I started 
on a journey which was to take me into the 
very heart of China, up the swelling bosom 
of the mighty Yang-tsze, into the recesses of 
the wide - stretching and wealthy province 
of Ssuch'uan, across the bleak highlands of 
Yun-nan, and out, finally, on the far side, 
through the tropical swamps and jungles of 
British Burma. Let me invite the reader 
whose interest is sufficiently aroused to accom- 
pany me. 

One steals away from Shanghai at some in- 
definite hour in the dead of night, and when 
one wakes up in the morning the great build- 
ings of the busy bustling commercial metropolis 
are lost to sight, and on all sides the waters 

12,000 miles by sea and then journeying inland within a stone's 
throw of the greatest iron ore deposits in the world, there to be 
sold at high prices because a working plan without restrictions 
has not yet been found by which to drive a little way into the 
bowels of mother earth." (See 1 The Truce in the Far East and 
its Aftermath,' by Mr Putnam Weale, p. 405.) Sooner or later 
the " working plan " now lacking will be found, and when this 
comes about it is difficult to see what is to prevent China from 
becoming the greatest industrial country in the world. 


of the Yang-tsze roll voluptuously in turbid 
yellow flood towards the sea, between low and 
scarcely perceptible banks ten miles apart. You 
may spend an unprofitable morning in guessing 
at the number of cubic feet of muddy water 
which pass by you every second, for little else 
will suggest itself to any one relying upon his 
external surroundings to set in motion his 
train of thought; and when you are tired of 
guessing, you may look up the answer in Mr 
Little's encyclopaedic dissertation upon the 
Yang-tsze, 1 and marvel at the divergence 
between your own estimate and the 1,000,000 
cubic feet which you learn is the volume of 
water brought down per second at Hankow, 
600 miles farther up, in the month of June. 
There is a story to the effect that when a 
certain English monarch threatened to remove 
his presence from London as a mark of his 
royal displeasure, the mayor and corporation 
made bold to express the hope that, when 
removing his court and his presence, he would 
vouchsafe to leave them the Thames. Yet, 
compared with the Yang-tsze, the Thames is a 

1 1 Through the Yang-tsze Gorges,' by Mr A. Little 


veritable stream, and can boast of a discharge 
at London of but -jtt of that of the Yang-tsze 
1000 miles from the sea. 

The afternoon provides some mild excitement, 
for the channel narrows down to little more 
than half a mile, and from the summits of a 
low range of hills on the right bank a dozen or 
more heavy guns frown grimly down upon the 
waters. We are passing the well-known forti- 
fied position of Kiang Yin, to which China looks 
in the day of trouble to guard the great artery 
leading to the heart of her empire. Beyond 
Kiang Yin the river widens out once more, 
and the sun sets in a blaze of glory behind 
an uninterrupted rim of level land. 

Early on the second morning Nanking is 
reached. Little of the city is to be seen from 
the river except the inevitable stone wall, which 
here comes down within a short distance of the 
river's edge, and a not altogether attractive- 
looking excrescence between the city wall and 
the river bank, due to the advent of the for- 
eigner and his trade. Another foreign innova- 
tion is on its way — namely, the railway which 
is being pushed forward from Shanghai by the 


British and Chinese Corporation, and which 
may be expected to arrive in another year's 
time. 1 In the meanwhile Nanking can show 
shipping entered and cleared aggregating close 
upon 4,000,000 tons. 

In the course of the next thirty-six hours we 
pass the port of Wuhu with its thousand-year 
old pagoda, opened to trade in 1877 ; a second 
fortified bluff, by name Matung ; a curious 
isolated rock rising abruptly from mid-stream 
with a monastery on its summit, and known as 
" The Little Orphan " ; Hukow, a fortified posi- 
tion at the entrance to the Poyang lake ; and 
on the evening of the third day draw up at the 
treaty port of Kiukiang, celebrated locally for 
pottery and silver ware, and enjoying the 
unenviable reputation of being the hottest of 
all the Yang-tsze ports. The following morn- 
ing the houses and factories of Hankow rise on 
the horizon, and by midday we are landing on 
the magnificent shaded esplanade which runs 
along the river's edge the whole length of the 
British, French, and German concessions. A 
short time previously I had the opportunity of 
seeing something of Hankow, which vies with 

1 This line is now completed and open to traffic. 


Tientsin for the position of second commercial 
city of the empire, and is deserving of passing 

In more ways than one Hankow is a remark- 
able town. It is, according to the members of 
the Blackburn Commercial Mission, " the great- 
est centre of distribution in the empire." Its 
position is certainly unique. Situated at the 
junction of the Han river with the Yang-tsze, 
600 miles from the coast, it is nevertheless 
visited by ocean - going steamers at certain 
seasons of the year, and is at all times in com- 
munication with Shanghai and the sea through 
the medium of a perfect flotilla of river steamers 
of considerable speed and size. 1 It is at the 

1 The following list of steamships plying exclusively upon 
the Yang-tsze at the present time will give some idea of the 
vast proportions which river navigation may be expected to 
assume when China becomes a modern industrial nation : — 

I. Shanghai — Hankow. 

The China Merchants Steam Navigation Co. 5 large steamers. 

Messrs Butterfield & Swire . . 4 m n 

Messrs Jardine, Mathieson, & Co. . 4 m n 
(The above three companies form a 
shipping combine.) 

The Osaka Shosen Kwaisha (Japanese) 4 n u 

The Nippon Yusen Kwaisha (Japanese) 3 n n 

A French company 3 n n 


present time the terminus, and in the future 
will be the central point, of a great trans - 
Chinese railway running from Peking to 

The Nord-Deutcher Lloyd ... 3 small steamers. 

The Hamburg Amerika . . . 2 n n 
Geddes & Co. (Chinese owned but flying 

the British flag) 2 n n 

Eamsay & Co. (Japanese) .... 2 n n 

A French company In n 

Total . . 33 steamers. 

II. Hankow — Ichang. 

The China Merchants Steam Navigation Co 
Messrs Butterfield & Swire . 
Messrs Jardine, Mathieson, & Co. 
The Osaka Shosen Kwaisha (Japanese) 


III. Hankow — Changsha. 

Messrs Butterfield & Swire ..... 1 steamer. 
Messrs Jardine, Mathieson, & Co. . . .1 n 
The Hunan Co. (a Japanese company receiving a 

subsidy of 6 per cent on its capital) . . .3 n 

Total . . 5 steamers. 

From the above table it will be seen that there are at pres- 
ent forty-four steamers plying exclusively upon the waters of 
the Yang-tsze. In addition to these, the Nippon Yusen Kwaisha 
and the Osaka Shosen Kwaisha each run two steamers from 
Yokohama to Hankow, and the number of sailing junks upon 
the river is incalculable. 



Canton. Railway travelling in China is, gen- 
erally speaking, still a novelty where it exists, 
which is the exception, and an as yet scarcely 
felt desideratum where it does not, which is the 
rule; yet I have quite recently traversed the 
800 miles between Peking and Hankow in little 
more than thirty-six hours, crossing the huge 
expanse of the formidable Yellow river by a 
bridge little short of two miles in length, in a 
train which might have been the Orient express 
hurrying from Paris to Constantinople, but for 
the presence of pig-tailed attendants speaking 
a dozen words of pidgin English and half as 
many of unintelligible French. The concession 
being nominally Belgian, and in reality largely 
French, some attempt has been made to bring 
that language into use upon the line. But the 
Chinese have ideas of their own as to the rela- 
tive value of foreign tongues, and it is a curi- 
ous fact, noticeable throughout the empire, that 
whereas a Chinese will pay to learn English, 
he will seldom take lessons in other languages 
free. 1 Finally, Hankow is the largest city 

1 In the Peking University, where instruction in one foreign 
language is obligatory, I found upwards of 300 out of the total 
VOL. I. D 


between Shanghai and Ch'ung-k'ing, and occu- 
pies a commanding position upon the greatest 
of all the avenues of approach to the vast 
regions of Western China. 

It is perhaps superfluous to add that its unique 
situation was not lost upon the pioneers of 
British trade, and that for upwards of forty years 
the lordly houses and residences of British mer- 
chants have formed a conspicuous and familiar 
object in the landscape. With a facility which 
continental Europe has always shown for fol- 
lowing in the wake of British pioneers, Kussia, 
France, Germany, Belgium, and Japan have 
appeared successively upon the scene, and have 
each at the present time their own concession. 
These, with the huddled agglomeration of native 
buildings on the left banks of the Han and the 
Yang-tsze rivers, constitute one section of a 
triple town. On the right bank of the Han 
lies Han Yang, the playground of a Viceroy's 
industrial ambition ; and across the mile-wide 
channel of the Yang-tsze stands Wuchang, the 

number of 500 students learning English. In one class I found 
the students engaged in composing an essay on education in 


site of the yamens of the Viceregal court and 
of a series of modern manufactories imported 
wholesale from the West. Hankow is further 
remarkable as the scene of a slowly awakening 
movement in favour of modern industrial 
methods, and as the capital of the famous 
Viceroy Chang Chih Tung. 

To Chang Chih Tung is undoubtedly largely 
due the industrial activity of the place. Arsenal 
and powder factory, mint, steel works and 
cotton mills, silk filatures, silk - weaving and 
grass-cloth establishments, all owe their exist- 
ence to official inspiration ; while private 
enterprise is represented by the famous brick- 
tea factories, a glass furnace, flour mills, and 
cotton-pressing establishments. Of these, the 
cotton mills and other textile industries have 
recently been freed from the burden of official 
management by passing into the hands of a 
business syndicate at a rent of 100,000 taels a- 
year, — a change which has proved of conspicu- 
ous advantage to the industry. About 40,000 
spindles and 500 looms were at work in the 
cotton mills when I visited them ; and though 
the workers here were all men and boys, the 


employment of women " being thought by the 
Viceroy to be against good morals and Confucian 
principles, ,, the greater expense of male labour 
seems to have been no obstacle to the success 
of the enterprise, the output for 1905 being 
164,930 pieces of shirting and 100,000 cwt. of 
yarn, and the profits 25 per cent, 1 — a significant 
indication of the potentialities of Chinese indus- 
trial undertakings when run on business lines. 
I noted as a curious fact that the danger to 
be apprehended from departing from " good 
morals and Confucian principles " is not appar- 
ently so great in a silk filature as in a cotton 
mill, since in a silk factory next door the hands 
employed were almost exclusively women and 

The steel works at Han Yang are in a state 
of transition, and present at one and the same 
time an example of the impulsive and head- 
strong character of the Viceroy and of the 
movement in the direction of industrial reform. 
Having decided that he would make his own 
rails, his Excellency lost no time in issuing 
orders for the establishment of steel works. 

1 Consular Report on the Trade of Hankow, 1905. 


In vain it was pointed out that in order that 
the contractors might decide upon the process 
best suited to the raw material, samples of 
the iron ore to be used should be secured 
and analysed. The Viceroy is one of those 
men who, in the words of an educated Chinese, 
"when he set his heart upon some new idea, 
expected his whole scheme to drop ready- 
made from heaven," and curtly informing the 
contractors that the quality of his iron ore was 
no business of theirs, demanded the despatch 
of a complete steel plant without further delay. 
The contractor guessed, since there was nothing 
else to be done — and guessed wrong. When 
the ore came to be treated, it was found to 
contain large quantities of phosphorus, a type 
of ore which is not amenable to the Bessemer 
process. After a large number of faulty rails 
had been supplied for the Pei-Han (Peking- 
Hankow) railway, the present manager, Mr Li, 
was sent to Europe to purchase a new plant, 
and the changes now in progress are the 
outcome of his recent visit. At a cost of 
2,500,000 taels a new blast furnace, Siemens- 
Martin furnaces, rolling mills, and beam and 


angle plant are already being set up, and it 
is estimated that before long the furnaces will 
be turning out from 400 to 450 tons of pig- 
iron a-day, while the rolling mills will be 
capable of dealing daily with from 800 to 
1000 tons of steel to allow of future expansion 
in the furnaces. Eails, ship plates, and steel 
girders will constitute the output, and a 
Lloyd's inspector is to be engaged to pass 
and register the plates. Mr Li has even 
visions of invading the preserves of Pittsburg, 
since he is of opinion that his girders, carried 
in ships on their homeward voyage after 
discharging American lumber and petroleum 
in China, can be landed at San Francisco at 
prices comparing favourably with those of the 
great steel metropolis of the United States. 
In the matter of raw material Hankow is 
abundantly blessed. At the coal mines of 
Ping Shan, coke equal to the best Durham 
is made at the pit's mouth ; while at Ta Yeh, 
seventy miles down the river, stands a mountain 
of iron ore, giving 65 per cent of pure metal, 
3 miles long and 400 feet high, — sufficient, 
according to the estimate of a European 


engineer, "to turn out 700 tons of iron a 
day for 1000 years." 

Quite recently a further instance of the 
imperious if ill-directed energy of the Viceroy 
had been given in a stupendous issue of 
copper coins. Having presumably accidentally 
stumbled upon Article II. of the Treaty of 
Commerce signed between Great Britain and 
China in 1902, by which China agrees "to take 
the necessary steps to provide for a uniform 
national coinage," he had with characteristic 
impetuosity seized time by the forelock and 
set all available machinery, not only in the 
cash and silver mints but even in the 
arsenal, to work upon the stamping of 10-cash 
pieces, whereby he succeeded in still further 
complicating the already inconceivably intricate 
currency of China by flooding the province in 
the course of a single year with three billion 
eight hundred and seventy-one million copper 
coins, the market value of which inevitably fell 
in proportion to the rapidity with which they 
were turned out. By the end of the year, 
when the central government had awaked to 
the danger of this reckless issue of depreciated 


coin, it was found that there were some 2000 
tons of copper still in stock, which had forth- 
with to be disposed of at a loss. 1 

It remains to add that the Viceroy is an 
ardent admirer of Japan. In the arsenal a 
staff of seventeen Japanese foremen have 
taken the place of the Germans who were 
formerly employed ; a Japanese colonel, with 
staff of twenty Japanese military instructors, 
left Hankow while I was there to accompany 
the Viceroy's troops to the autumn manoeuvres 
in Honan ; while a river fleet of six gunboats 
and four destroyers are under construction in 
the shipyards of that country. Japanese were 
to be seen instructing and supervising in the 
textile factories, and the British consul-general 
reports that "the position of other nations is 
adversely affected by the anomalous favour 
felt for Japan, which renders that country's 
vigorous competition a very serious obstacle to 
any attempt to push our business relations with 
China. . . . Japanese hawkers have appeared 
in the streets of Wuchang, and the Japanese 

1 See Consular Report on the Trade of Hankow for the 
year 1905. 


post office is about to open a branch there. 
Instead of the heated denunciation that such 
'invasions of the interior' would have called 
forth had the perpetrators been Britons or 
other foreigners, the native papers record that 
the police received strict orders to watch over 
these enterprising persons, and laud the activity 
of the islanders in business." 1 Seven large 
J apanese firms are doing business in the city ; 
three large new steamers are about to be put on 
the Yang-tsze by the Nippon Yusen Kwaisha, 2 
the largest shipping company in Japan ; of 
an estimated foreign population of 2500, it is 
said that 1000 are Japanese ; and the Japanese 
concession, which has lain fallow for ten years, 
is now being taken vigorously in hand. 
Hankow, indeed, presents an admirable example 
of the prosecution of the rapidly growing 
ambitions and aspirations which are so con- 
spicuous a feature of new Japan. 

It would be impossible to leave Hankow 

1 Consular Eeport on the Trade of Hankow for the year 

2 These are included in the list of river steamers given 
on page 47. 


without making mention of the brick -tea 
industry, more especially since at two other 
places only, Fuchow and Kiukiang, can a 
similar process be seen. At Hankow three 
Eussian steam factories are engaged in pressing 
tea-leaf and tea-dust into bricks and tablets 
for the markets of Siberia, Mongolia, and 
Turkestan, at the rate of 20,000 tons a-year. 
It has been said that tea-dust also finds its 
way across the Pacific, where it fulfils the 
useful purpose of improving the colour — and 
inferentially the age — of American whisky ; 
but then it has also been said by the ribald 
that soot is employed to perform a similar 
office for the tablets of Hankow tea. 

Beyond Hankow the yellow waters of the 
great river stretch away westward like a 
ribbon, between low-lying plains cultivated with 
cotton. The resources of a river steamer are 
not great, and the lack of interest is doubly 
emphasised by the dull monotony of the land- 
scape, broken only by the occasional graceful 
outline of argosies of white-sailed junks. We 
steamed uneventfully forward till the morning 
of the third day, when we found ourselves 


suddenly in shallow water. For some time 
we dodged backwards and forwards trying to 
find a channel, but our 2700 tons (gross 
tonnage) and our seven-foot draught proved 
too much, and when noon came and went and 
saw us still within half a mile of where we 
had been at eight o'clock in the morning, it 
became evident that we had accidentally dis- 
covered one of those places described by an 
ingenuous consul as " suitable only for ships 
drawing little or no water." That is one of 
the failings of the great river : its waters fall, 
and what is river one day may be paddy-fields 
the next. The river was falling now, and 
on all sides as the water receded the riparian 
population advanced, putting up flimsy reed 
huts and plunging recklessly into agricultural 

" Sterilisque diu palus, aptaque remis, 
Vicinas urbes alit, et grave sentit aratram." 

Navigation under these circumstances is subject 
to rude surprises, and the very ship in which I 
had travelled to Hankow had most unexpectedly 
found herself constrained to spend a month 


upon dry land during the previous winter, 
owing to a sudden fall in the river level. With 
that consideration and resource characteristic 
of the followers of the nautical profession, her 
captain took and despatched to the owners 
bi-weekly sets of photographs, "in order that 
they might see for themselves the steady 
progress made in the recession of the water." 
Fortunately on this occasion the steam launch 
which had been sent forward to explore, at last 
hit upon an eight-foot passage, and by evening 
we reached the port of Sha-shih, where, owing 
to further reports of shallow water ahead, we 
anchored for the night. 

Sha-shih was opened to trade by the Japanese 
in 1896, but as far as foreign trade is concerned 
has proved a failure, its returns being the low- 
est but one of all the Yang-tsze ports. Japan 
holds a fair share of such trade as there is, 
and before leaving we discharged 1000 cases of 
Japanese sugar, seaweed, and yarn. But even 
the tenacity of the Japanese has given way 
before the stolid indifference of Sha-shih, only 
one of four firms that were established there 
two or three years ago still remaining, while 


the Japanese steamship agency has fallen into 
Chinese hands ; and a Government exhibition, 
founded with a view to advertising Japanese 
goods, has recently closed and its exhibits been 
sold off at auction. Even so, "Made in Japan 
is writ large on most of the cotton goods and 
fancy articles, lamps, umbrellas, and straw hats. 
The last-named head-gear is becoming very 
popular with all classes, and I was amused to 
discover that the fashionable hat of the season 
— a narrow-brim straw with highly coloured 
ribbon, obviously of Japanese make — bore inside 
the crown a device showing the British royal 
arms, and the not inappropriate motto, ' Honi 
soit qui mal y pense.' " 1 Sha-shih, however, 
manufactures a large amount of cotton cloth, 
178,000 cwt. of which find their way yearly to 
the provinces of the West. It is made in three 
qualities, is the usual 14 inches in width, and 
sells at l|d., lfd., and 2Jd. a yard. 2 

From daylight on the 29th of October we 
steamed steadily up-river, the low-lying plains 

1 See Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Annual Series, 
No. 3701 : Trade of Sha-shih for the year 1905. 

2 Ibid. 


giving place by the middle of the day to moun- 
tainous country, where pagodas appeared to 
crown almost every eminence, and clumps of 
bamboo and other evergreens enlivened the 
view; and at length at 10 p.m. we reached 
the head of steam navigation and anchored 
in mid-stream, flowing here with a six-knot 
current, between the pyramid - shaped peaks 
of the foothills of the mountainous country 
of the west, and facing the busy wharves and 
buildings of Ichang. 




The importance of Ichang lies in its being 
the port of transhipment between the coast and 
central China on the one hand, and the wide 
regions of Ssuch'uan and Yun-nan on the other. 
"Here the results of modern invention in the 
shape of steel twin-screw steamers of over 1000 
tons burden give place to medieval methods of 
transport as typified by the wooden junk with 
an average carrying capacity of 45 tons : here 
marine insurance begins and ends." 1 Here, 
too, the traveller will find a faint echo of the 
industrial activity of Hankow in the shape of 
a factory for the manufacture of cotton cloth 

1 Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Annual Series, No. 3571 : 
Trade of Ichang for the year 1905. 


from Chinese yarn, consisting of fifty wooden 
hand-looms imported from Japan, and superin- 
tended by a manager of the same nationality. 1 
But for the rest Ichang holds out no great 
attraction, and we lost little time in stowing our 
possessions into the two huadzas, or three-room 
native passenger junks, kindly engaged for us 
by the British consul, and effecting a start. 
"We" consisted of two white men, — Mr F. W. 
Belt, an Australian who for many years had 
found wandering in many lands the most satis- 
factory method of — as he expressed it — killing 
time, and myself; two Chinese servants picked 
up by Belt at Hankow; Mr Chou, commonly 
known as "Joe," my faithful and accomplished 
interpreter; and Peter, my Chinese cook and 
body-servant, equipped to a remarkable degree 
with all the virtues and most of the vices 
common to his kind. 

The passenger junk is a long, narrow, shallow- 
draught boat fitted with mast and sail. Aft a 

1 Additional machinery has since been imported from Japan 
— namely, a 15-horse-power engine, driving 40 looms and 150 
foot looms. Japanese ginning machines are also in use, and 
are said to be finding a ready sale in every part of the 


wooden cabin tilted up over the rudder consti- 
tutes the abode of the captain and his family. 
Immediately in front of this is a more or 
less open space for the men at the helm ; next, 
in the middle of the boat, a long wooden 
deck-house divided into three compartments for 
the traveller ; and finally, an open deck forward, 
which can be roofed over with matting at 
night, and which forms the scene both of the 
labours and the repose of the crew. My crew 
totalled twenty - three men, — the captain, of 
whom we were hard put to it to decide whether 
his mind or his language were the stronger ; 
the helmsman, paid at the extravagant rate 
of 14,000 cash (about 30s.) for the voyage to 
Ch'ung-k'ing ; a tai-wan-ti — i.e., an individual 
whose duty it was to be ready at all times to 
jump out of his clothes and into the river to 
release the tow-rope when obstructed, paid from 
6000 to 7000 cash (say 15s.); a ship's cook, who 
took a hand at the oars when not otherwise 
engaged ; five boatmen always on board to 
handle the huge sweeps and stave the vessel 
off rocks with long, iron-shod, bamboo punting- 
poles ; and finally, fourteen trackers, who toiled 

VOL. I. E 


from dawn to dark with scarcely an interval, and 
received the handsome reward of 4000 cash 
(about 8s. 6d.) for the journey, which might 
occupy anything from three weeks to a month. 
Could you want a better example of that class 
of men so common all over China "who are 
driven by the constant and chronic reappear- 
ance of the wolf at their door to spend their 
life in an everlasting grind " ? 

Trackers and boatmen alike are endowed 
with two remarkable characteristics — an invari- 
able cheerfulness and good - humour in spite 
of their life of unceasing toil, and a colossal 
and ineradicable superstition. Hence the start 
on a voyage is celebrated with dramatic rites. 
The head of a sacrificial cock is ceremoniously 
removed, the blood is poured in libation over the 
vessel's bows, and amid the ascending fumes 
and smoke of many joss - sticks, the detona- 
tion of crackers, and the soul-stirring din of the 
inharmonious gong, the start is duly and propiti- 
ously made. Thus we placate the powers of evil 
that infest the waters of the great river, and set 
forth for the promised lands of the west. 

The fame of the swirling races and majestic 


gorges of the Yang-tsze is widespread. A 
mile or two above Ichang rise the mountain 
portals giving entrance to the first great gorge, 
and for ten days on end the traveller is borne 
through a wonderland of cliffs and towering 
pinnacles, where in some past geologic era 
whole mountain- ranges have been twisted and 
torn asunder by some terrific convulsion in the 
earth's surface. Nature has here assumed her 
grandest and most solemn garb. The pent- 
up waters race between sheer walls of towering 
rock ; each turn in the winding course presents 
a fresh vista of magic grandeur. For us the 
sense of awe and gloom was emphasised by 
heavy masses of storm - cloud brooding over 
the mountain-tops and blotting out the light, 
while vegetation, growing wherever it found 
foothold among the rocks, and just assuming 
the vivid tints of autumn, gave colour to the 
scene and added by contrast to the sense of 
overwhelming immensity. 

For the most part we are dragged by brute 
force against the current by the fourteen 
trackers at the end of a rope of plaited 
bamboo. When this is not possible the 


whole crew scramble on board, throw them- 
selves upon the huge sweeps, ten men to each, 
and screaming and shouting like pandemonium 
let loose, drive the boat slowly forward, the 
wild refrain of their songs harmonising with 
the stroke of the oars and echoing backwards 
and forwards between the encircling walls of 
rock. Sometimes when the trackers are on 
shore the tow-rope gets entangled in some 
intervening rock. The mate on deck leaps 
up and beats a wild tattoo on the ship's 
drum. The tow-rope immediately slackens, 
the deck crew, including the ship's cook, who 
have been perfectly quiet for an hour past 
absorbed in Buddha -like contemplation, or 
perhaps in slumber, spring up with a start, 
and becoming suddenly galvanised into an 
extravagant vitality, hurl themselves on to 
the sweeps with frenzied fury. They shout 
and shriek and stamp, all the while doubling 
themselves into extraordinary contortions, the 
cook especially, who by reason of the ex- 
aggerated slant of his eyes and eyebrows 
has a Mephistophelian appearance to start 
with, rapidly assuming the demoniacal 


appearance of a man possessed. When the 
obstacle which has been the innocent cause 
of all this disturbance is passed, peace 
descends once more, and the trackers tighten 
up the tow-rope and proceed as before. 

The monotony of travelling thus for days 
together is broken by the variety of the 
scenery and the difficulty encountered in sur- 
mounting the rapids. At this time of year, 
when the water has fallen sufficiently to 
mitigate the force of the current and not 
enough to uncover the worst reefs, which 
are largely responsible for the danger of the 
rapids, all is more or less plain sailing. It 
is for this reason, perhaps, that those who 
have only a bowing acquaintance with the 
river have been led to underrate the 
difficulties of steam navigation. I encoun- 
tered only one rapid that presented any 
difficulty, namely, the Yeh tan, and even 
here we were hauled up easily with the aid 
of a couple of ropes and an extra fifty or 
sixty men. The state of the Yeh tan, how- 
ever, offered fruitful suggestion as to what 
the rapids can do, and it is worth noting 


that Mr Little, whose acquaintance with the 
river is perhaps unique, affirms that at low 
water an ordinary kuadza such as I was 
travelling in would occupy six weeks between 
Ichang and Ch'ung - k'ing, or very nearly 
double the time actually taken by myself in 
November. On this point I shall have more 
to say in a later chapter. For the moment 
let me only remark that some insight into 
the peculiar construction of the Chinese mind 
may be gained by a careful observance of the 
immemorial methods of the boating popula- 
tion. I became quite absorbed on one occa- 
sion in watching a heavy junk struggling 
painfully up one of the lesser races, which are 
of frequent occurrence in certain stretches of 
the river. A long line had been laid out and 
hitched to a rock above the race. On deck a 
dozen men were yelling like fiends as they 
stumbled, slipped, and staggered in desperate 
endeavours to haul themselves up by the 
line. They would all seize hold of it, go 
through an exaggerated goose-step in ex- 
ecrable time, and as soon as they had a little 
bit in hand, make a desperate plunge with 


it to a cross - beam amidships, where they 
would secure the few inches they had gained. 
This strenuous performance was then gone 
through all over again from the beginning, 
and the motion continued until they had at 
length dragged themselves to the top of the 
obstruction. Now the thought that not un- 
naturally occurred to me was, what a mar- 
vellous thing it is that in the whole course 
of the two or three odd millenniums during 
which the Chinese have been struggling with 
the navigation of the Yang-tsze, they have 
failed to evolve so simple a mechanical con- 
trivance as a windlass ! With the most 
primitive hand-winch a couple of men could 
have effected all and more than the dozen 
delirious maniacs in a quarter of the time, 
and at an expenditure of an infinitesimal 
fraction of the human force. It would be 
difficult to find a more striking example of 
that complete lack of imagination which has 
doomed China to a perpetual back seat among 
the competing Powers in the present advanced 
stage of the progress of humanity. 

On the ninth day out from Ichang we 


reached K'uei Fu, the first town worthy of 
the name that we had passed, built on the 
steep hillside of an open valley. Our struggle 
with the rapids and gorges proper is at an 
end ; henceforth our way will lie along the 
bottoms of more open valleys, with only an 
occasional rapid here and there to interrupt 
our passage. K'uei Fu is of little concern to 
the British manufacturer. Some cotton yarn 
and coarse cotton cloth I saw, but the bulk 
of the shops appeared to be concerned chiefly 
with joss-sticks, native foodstuffs, a little 
local silver ware, and pawned goods. The 
yarn, I was told, came from the mills of 
Wuchang, and a query from one of my 
informants as to whether similar goods were 
produced in my country confirmed me in my 
opinion that the good people of K'uei Fu are 
not in the habit of trafficking in foreign 
goods. No wonder the members of the Black- 
burn Commercial Mission remarked, "Com- 
merce, the subject of our report, scarcely 
exists until Wan Hsien is reached." If K'uei 
Fu does nothing else, it serves to throw a 
not insignificant light upon some of the 



causes of Chinese official opposition to foreign 
incursion. In the good old days K'uei Fu grew 
fat upon the proceeds of taxation imposed upon 
the river traffic, collecting, it is said, as much 
as 2000 taels (£300) a-day. With the opening 
of Ch'ung-k'ing to foreign trade these lucra- 
tive exactions were swept away, and ichdbod 
is writ plainly over the dirt and squalor of 
the once opulent K'uei Fu. 

Beyond this the scenery changes somewhat. 
The defiant rock walls of the gorges give 
place by degrees to less aggressive mountain 
slopes. Disintegrated sandstone colours the 
land with a warm, rich red ; well-to-do look- 
ing farmsteads with gabled roofs and white- 
washed walls nestle among clumps of bamboo 
in pleasant hollows; and bright patches of 
sugar - cane and a variety of vegetables add 
to the general air of rural prosperity. All 
along the banks the poppy is being sown, 
which later on will cover the countryside 
with a mass of brilliant colour, showing bright 
against the background of brick-red earth and 
the dark-green leaf of the shady banyan. 

On Nov. 11th we surmounted without diffi- 


culty the "New Glorious Eapid" formed by 
a landslide in 1896, and though improved by 
the engineer, still a terror at low water, and 
the following day drew up at the district 
town of Wan Hsien. From here there is a 
road direct to Ch'eng-tu, the capital of 
Ssuch'uan, and from here likewise mails are 
despatched direct to Peking. West to Ch'ung- 
k'ing, and from there on for another 250 
miles to Sui Fu on the Yang-tsze, and on 
again for 100 miles to Chia-ting Fu on the 
Min, steam navigation is possible, this stretch 
of water providing a scene for the activities 
of his Majesty's gunboats posted at Ch'ung- 
k'ing. On the latest map of Ssuch'uan, 
recently issued by the intelligence branch of 
the British War Office, Wan Hsien is singled 
out as an example of an open port. As a 
matter of fact it is nothing of the sort, and 
draws its stock of foreign goods almost ex- 
clusively from Ch'ung-k'ing. These consist of 
English shirtings and black and coloured 
Italians from Manchester, for which I was 
informed there was a fair demand, and fancy 
goods from Germany and Japan. Beyond 



these, and in addition to the usual native 
wares, the products of local looms were on 
sale in the shape of cotton cloth and grass 
cloth for summer wear, and a fair stock of 
yarn from the mills of Wuchang. "In the 
town of Wan Hsien there are about 1000 
hand -looms. The weavers are paid by the 
piece — about 30 feet long and 16 inches 
broad ; this it takes an average weaver two 
days to weave, working from daylight to 
9 p.m., and for this he gets 100 to 120 cash 
(2|d. to 3d.), being provided with food which 
may cost about 40 cash a-day ; so that a 
weaver's wages may be put at 900 cash 
(Is. 6d.) per week of six days, in which 
time he would produce 112J square feet of 
cloth." 1 When we take into consideration 
the difference in the price of labour between 
Manchester and Wan Hsien, and the heavy 
freights which Manchester goods are called 
upon to bear, to say nothing of the risks 
incurred, we see one of the reasons why the 
" millions of China," who are not infrequently 
held up by those whose too great enthusiasm 

1 Eeport of the Blackburn Commercial Mission. 


outruns their reason, as the components of 
a prodigious market for British goods, are not 
unlikely to continue in the future, as in the 
past, to adequately supply their own demand. 

From Wan Hsien to Ch'ung-k'ing proved a 
somewhat monotonous journey of ten days, 
through scenery that varied little in character 
and presented the same features — red hills 
terraced for cultivation, bamboos, banyans, 
wood oil -trees, sugar-cane, and vegetables — 
throughout. Here and there where outcrops 
of coal were visible in the hillsides, crude open- 
ings like the burrowings of brobdingnagian 
rabbits were to be seen, calling to mind the 
extraordinary antiquity of the practice of burn- 
ing coal in China, — a practice which excited the 
interest and the admiration of Marco Polo, who 
informed his astonished readers on his return 
to Europe that "all over the country of Cathay 
there is a kind of black stones existing in 
beds in the mountains which they dig out and 
burn like firewood ; . . . and they make such 
capital fuel that no other is used throughout 
the country." Examples of the primitive, how- 
ever, become monotonous in China, and it was 



not without satisfaction that, on the 22nd of 
November, I at last beheld the pagodas which 
herald the approach of a great city, and a 
little later tied up at the foot of the cele- 
brated river port of Ch'ung-k'ing, romantically 
situated on a rugged spit of land jutting out 
between the Yang-tsze and Chia-ling rivers, 
and faced on the south by a range of wild 
and picturesque mountains. The first stage 
of my journey had been completed, and before 
me rose the steep and narrow thoroughfares 
and busy buildings of the commercial capital 
of the west. 




I propose dealing with the whole question 
of commerce and communications in later 
chapters ; but it may not be amiss if, while 
the description of my journey up 1400 miles 
of the Yang-tsze is still fresh in the reader's 
mind, I touch upon the problem of its navi- 
gation. The importance of this question 
cannot be overrated, since the Yang-tsze pro- 
vides at present almost the only means of 
communication between the outside world and 
a portion of the Chinese empire which has 
been described as bearing " about the same 
proportion to the prospective value of the 
yet undeveloped Sudan as does the wealth 
of the city of London to that of any ordinary 



market town in England." 1 The time occu- 
pied in the transportation of merchandise 
from the coast to Ch'ung-k'ing is a factor 
of no little importance. Let me recapitulate 
the dates of my own journey. On October 
the 21st I left Shanghai. On October the 
24th I reached Hankow, 600 miles higher 
up the river, and left again at midnight on 
the 25th, reaching Ichang, 400 miles beyond, 
at 10 p.m. on the 29th. On the morning of 
the 31st I re-embarked in a light passenger 
junk, and reached Ch'ung-k'ing after a quick 
passage on the afternoon of November 22nd. 
Time occupied between Shanghai and Ch'ung- 
k'ing, thirty -three days. When it is seen 
that at the most favourable time of year for 
effecting a quick journey a traveller cannot ex- 
pect to cover the 1400 odd miles in less than 
a month, it will be readily understood that 
merchandise may occupy anything from six 
weeks to three months from the coast to the 
commercial gateway of Ssuch'uan, according 
to the state of the water and the time of 

1 Sir T. H. Holdich, K.C.M.G., K.C.I.E., C.B., in 'India' 
(The Regions of the World Series), p. 188. 


year, — a matter of no small import to the 
people of the premier commercial and manu- 
facturing nation. 

But if delay in transportation proves a 
hindrance to commerce, high freights still 
further exaggerate the difficulty, and the 
freight charges ruling on the Yang-tsze are 
excessively high. Let me give examples. The 
freight recently paid on a ton (measurement) 
of English grey shirting from Shanghai to 
Chung-k'ing was £5, 12s. — considerably more 
than double the freight paid on the same 
consignment from Manchester to Shanghai, 
and that on a picul (133 J lb.) of soda ash 
valued at 3 taels 55 cents at Shanghai, 1 tael 
40 cents, or 40 per cent of its value. Again, 
" on a shipment of 600 boxes of soap the 
freight was Tls. 1225, and the insurance and 
other charges Tls. 486, making the cost of 
the consignment about 40 per cent of its 
original value"; 1 and £1, 4s. was given me 
by a Chinese retail merchant as the cost of 
bringing a bale of cotton Italians from 

1 Report by the Commissioner of Customs at Ch'ung-k'ing, 



Shanghai. Nor must it be forgotten that 
Ch'ung-k'ing is only on the threshold of the 
province. From here on, goods may have to 
travel several hundreds of miles farther by 
water, or be carried laboriously overland on 
the backs of animals or men. Thus, at 
Ch'eng-tu, the capital of the province, " the 
foreign resident has to pay 10 dollars 30 cents 
for a case of kerosene oil which in Hankow 
costs only 3 dollars 40 cents, and a 4-lb. tin 
of Hong Kong sugar, worth about 60 cents 
in Shanghai, cannot be had for less than 3 
dollars 40 cents. In fact, the latter is sold 
here as a sweatmeat for some six cash a 
cube." 1 Such figures speak for themselves. 

The pith of the particular question with 
which I am now concerned resolves itself into 
this — can transport by the Yang-tsze be ex- 
pedited, and can the cost of such transport 
be reduced ? In other words, is steam navi- 
gation between Ichang and Ch'ung-k'ing for 
commercial purposes possible ? Statements 
have been made from time to time making 

1 Report on the province of Ssuch'uan by Sir Alexander 

VOL. J. F 


light of the difficulties lying in the way of 
steam navigation — statements with which I 
find myself quite unable to agree. The mem- 
bers of the Blackburn Commercial Mission 
ascended the stretch between Ichang and 
Ch'ung-k'ing in November, a time of year at 
which, as I have already pointed out, the 
real character of the rapids does not appear. 
Hence they reported that " the stretch between 
Ichang and Ch'ung-k'ing has been credited 
with a character which in the estimation of 
this mission is ill-deserved. . . . The terrors 
of the so-called rapids (sic) . . . arise more 
from ignorance of fact and circumstance than 
experience." And, again, Sir Eobert Douglas 
in a recent publication declares that " repeated 
proposals have been made by foreigners to 
clear a passage, as might easily be done by 
the use of dynamite." 1 For myself, I prefer 
to accept the opinion of Captain Plant, at 
present pilot in the service of the French 
Government on the upper waters of the Yang- 
tsze, who can boast of ten years of practical 
experience of these waters, and who speaks 

1 1 Europe and the Far East,' p. 289. The italics are mine. 

Official lifeboat on the Yang-tsze. 


eloquently of the " enormous difficulties " of 
the " chimerical schemes which have been put 
forward from time to time for the improve- 
ment of this part of the river." That steamers 
can surmount the obstacles was first proved 
by Mr Little, who ascended in a small steam- 
boat called the Lechuen in 1898. The account 
which he has given of this pioneer voyage is 
interesting in the extreme. That the boat 
was towed by coolies up some of the worst 
rapids, and that the journey occupied eleven 
steaming days or, including deductions, three 
weeks in all, in no way detracts from the merit 
of that gentleman's enterprise. " It was," as 
Mr Little himself points out, "a first experi- 
ment, which could not be hurried ; it was, for 
necessary reasons, made at a season when the 
rapids were at their worst, and it was made 
with a vessel of insufficient power ; " 1 and it 
was followed a year later by a second ascent 
in the Pioneer, a boat built on a larger and 
more powerful scale, which may claim to be 
the first vessel which ever made her way from 
Ichang to Ch ung-k'ing under her own steam. 

1 'Through the Yang-tsze Gorges. 5 


A German endeavour to follow her example 
met with disaster, the boat being wrecked 
and her captain drowned ; but since 1900 the 
passage has been made with increasing fre- 
quency and success by one French, one 
German, and three British gunboats, the most 
modern of which, H.M.S. Widgeon, steamed 
from Ichang to Ch'ung-k'ing in under six 
days, or just over forty-seven steaming hours. 
Germany, whose earlier efforts were crowned 
with disaster, did not succeed in reaching 
Ch'ung-k'ing until May 1907, when the gun- 
boat Vaterland, which I found at Ichang 
waiting for a favourable opportunity to make 
a start, was successful, leaving Ichang on 
April 16th, and reaching Ch'ung-k'ing in 
nineteen days. 

Nevertheless, the fact that light - draught 
steamers with powerful engines (leaving little 
or no room for cargo) can ascend the river at 
favourable times of the year is no proof what- 
soever that they could be run as a commercial 
success. The mere fact that since Mr Little 
disposed of the Pioneer to the British Govern- 
ment in 1900 no further attempt in this 


direction has been made, points rather to a 
conclusion in an opposite sense ; and indeed, 
to quote the opinion of Captain Plant once 
more, these attempts to run commercial 
steamers, " abortive as they were, sufficed to 
demonstrate that steamers of necessarily high 
speed, and of sufficient carrying capacity to 
enable them to pay, were quite impossible." 

The rapids qua rapids do not by any means 
constitute the only obstacle to navigation, as 
is too generally supposed by those who have 
not thought it necessary to probe very deeply 
into the question before dogmatising upon it. 
It is its immense diversity of phase that 
renders the Yang-tsze so formidable a river. 
During November, April, and May, the two 
periods of the year between high and low 
water when the river may be said to be 
asleep, navigation by light - draught powerful 
steamers may be undertaken with a certain 
degree of safety, and it has been during these 
months that such steamers as have made 
the passage have done so. But during the 
remaining nine months of the year the river 
presents two widely different phases, each 


equally dangerous to steam navigation, — its 
high- water phase and its low -water phase. 
From December to March, when the river is 
at low water, the gorges and the reaches 
between the rapids are tranquil and easy, but 
it is precisely at this season that the rapids 
present their greatest difficulty. The three low- 
water rapids — Kong Ling, 38 miles above 
Ichang ; Chin T'an, 44 miles above Ichang ; and 
Hsin Lung T'an, 177 miles above Ichang — may 
be taken as examples. The only steamer that 
ever tackled the Chin T'an and Hsin Lung T'an 
rapids was Mr Little's Lechuen, which was 
little more than a steam launch, and was in 
point of fact hauled up the rapids in the same 
way as the native junk. Of the two attempts 
that have been made to negotiate the Kong 
Ling, the first ended in complete disaster 
and the second came within an ace of meeting 
with a similar fate. In the case of the Chin 
T'an and Hsin Lung T'an rapids there is 
a heavy fall in levels between top and 
bottom, amounting in the case of the latter 
to between seven and eight feet, while their 
danger is accentuated by powerful back-waters 



and vicious gyrating swirls. As the river 
rises the low- water rapids disappear and others 
form, the worst on a thirty-foot level being 
the Yeh T'an, the Meou Kou, and the Fou T'an, 
while the reaches between the rapids are 
converted from quiet stretches into turbulent 
rock-strewn mazes of swirling waters. The 
Yatse Ho, a stretch of fourteen miles between 
Nan Ton and Kong Ling, provides an example 
of this phase of the river. With a further 
rise during summer to a level of sixty or 
more feet, the peaceful gorges of the low- 
water period became turbulent chutes. The 
vast volume of pent - in water meeting all 
manner of submerged obstacles dashes in 
zigzag from shore to shore, cannoning off 
walls of rock until the whole gorge becomes 
one rushing, gyrating mass of angry water. 
A whole treatise might be written upon the 
particular obstacles which obtrude themselves 
at various places upon the river at different 
times of the year, but perhaps enough has been 
said to show that it was the opinion expressed 
by the members of the Blackburn Commercial 
Mission, rather than the "terrors of the so- 


called rapids " that arose " more from ignorance 
of fact and circumstance than experience," 
and that the assertion of Sir Robert Douglas 
that "a passage might easily be cleared" is 
too airy a generality for acceptance unless 
accompanied by definite suggestions as to 
practical methods for its accomplishment, and 
explanations as to how, even if a passage 
was cleared at some of the worst rapids, 
this would overcome the difficulties provided 
by the fourteen -mile stretch of the Yatse 
Ho and the tremendous force of the gorges 
at high water. 

During 1906 an oft- suggested scheme for 
making use of steam haulage at the rapids 
crystallised on paper in a more or less definite 
shape, the model adopted being the system 
in use upon the Rhone. By Article V. of 
the Mackay Treaty of 1902 the Chinese 
Government admit that "they are aware of 
the desirability of improving the navigability 
of the waterway between Ichang and Ch'ung- 
k'ing," but set it upon record that "they 
are also fully aware that such improvement 
might involve heavy expense " — a conspicuous 


instance of the perspicacity of the governing 
body. They agree, therefore, "that until 
improvements can be carried out, steamship 
owners shall be allowed to erect, at their own 
expense, appliances for hauling through the 

It appears to the uninitiated, however, that 
in connection with such schemes sufficient 
attention has not been paid to the enormous 
rise and fall of the water at different seasons 
of the year. Let us take an example. The 
summer of 1905 was remarkable in Ssuch'uan 
for a prolonged period of drought. " Towards 
the end of July the crops had become parched, 
and rain was earnestly looked for. As is 
customary, one of the city gates was closed, 
and the magistrate was called upon to offer 
up prayers at various temples." 1 He prayed 
with prodigious effect. On August 5th he 
attended at the city temple, and on August 
6th rain fell in torrents, some distance higher 
up the river a waterspout burst, carrying 
away with it half a hill, and by the 10th 

1 Report by the Commissioner of Customs of Ch'ung- 
k'ing, 1905. 


the river at Ch'ung-k'ing had risen to 108 
feet. "Houses, coffins, corpses, and living 
freight on various supports, were all making 
their way down river at a rapid rate, and 
the city walls were lined by natives watching 
the scene." 1 

When the river rises 90 or 100 feet, what 
becomes of the hauling apparatus? If in 
the first instance it is set up at a sufficient 
height in the mountain-side to allow for 
such rises, what provision is to be made for 
handling the colossal weight of the enormously 
long steel hawser which it is proposed to 
use ? Finally, by what means is the necessary 
steering -power to be obtained to counteract 
both the force of the current and the eddies 
and the huge weight of the hauling - line ? 
These are questions to which I have never 
succeeded in obtaining a satisfactory answer. 

On a small scale, approximating as nearly 
as possible to the present junks in shape 
and size, a tug and lighter scheme appears 
to be the only one at present practicable, 

1 Report by the Commissioner of Customs of Ch'ung- 
k'ing, 1905. 

Battling with the Yang-tsze. 



tug and lighter alike being hauled up those 
rapids which do not prove amenable to steam 
in the same way as the ordinary junk. Such 
a scheme might be feasible for six or seven 
months in the year, and might even be carried 
on to a limited extent during high water, the 
passage being thereby quickened and greater 
regularity and security obtained. 1 That it 
would serve to lower the present high level 
of charges, however, appears to me to be 
extremely problematical. 

It will be seen, then, that I hold little 
hope of any great improvement being made 
in the navigability of the Yang-tsze, it being 
to future railways that we must look, in my 
opinion, rather than to the taming of the 
river for improvement in the means of com- 
munication in this part of the world. How- 
ever unwilling we may be to admit it, any 
material improvement on the present system 
of navigation is unquestionably beyond the 
range of present probability, and the same 
system in which " the annual loss of life, in 

1 According to late information a Chinese company has been 
formed for putting such a scheme into practice. 



spite of the excellent service of life -boats 
maintained by public subscription, is appalling, 
the percentage of cargo lost and damaged 
incredible," 1 is likely to survive for many a 
year to come. 

1 Diplomatic and Consular Reports, Annual Series, 
No. 3571 : Trade of Ichang for the year 1905. The words 
quoted, however, are perhaps calculated to give a some- 
what exaggerated idea of the loss both of life and of 




Having conducted the reader to the important 
treaty port of Ch'ung-k'ing, let me now give 
him in brief outline a sketch of the remarkable 
series of negotiations which led up to the 
opening of the port to trade. A perusal of 
them will be found to provide much instruction 
and some little entertainment. When the 
Chifu Agreement of 1876, arising out of the 
murder of a consular officer, Mr Augustus 
Eaymond Margary, was drawn up between 
Great Britain and China, it was decided among 
other things that while the British Government 
might send officers to reside at Ch'ung-k'ing 
to watch the condition of British trade, the 
port should not be open to British merchants 


until steamers succeeded in reaching it. As, 
however, under Article 47 of the Treaty of 
Tientsin, ships resorting to " ports of trade 
other than those declared open by this treaty " 
were with their cargo liable to confiscation, 
it gradually dawned upon the minds of those 
concerned that a Chinese puzzle had been 
propounded about as susceptible of solution 
as the problem as to which came first, the 
chicken or the egg? 

The British merchant, however, has no time 
to waste in guessing at Chinese diplomatic 
conundrums which have no answers, and in 
1899 Mr Little built an experimental steamer, 
the Killing, with which he proposed ascending 
the Yang-tsze, and so claiming the opening of 
the port to trade. Such Alexandrian methods 
of cutting their Gordian knot were not at all to 
the liking of the Mandarinate, and a diplomatic 
wrangle immediately ensued, the Chinese sur- 
passing themselves in fertility of argument 
when they declared, in an official despatch to 
Sir John Walsham, that " the monkeys in the 
Gorges would throw down rocks on the pass- 
ing steamers, and that then the poor Chinese 



Government would be held responsible " ! The 
scheme was abandoned and the Ruling sold ; 
but the absurdity of the position seems at last 
to have occurred to the legation mind, and in 
the following year the Governments of Great 
Britain and China, being desirous of settling 
in an amicable spirit " the divergence of 
opinion " (sic) which had arisen with respect to 
the position of Ch'ung-k'ing, agreed that the 
town should be declared open to trade on 
the same footing as any other treaty port. 1 

Thus was one anomaly wiped off the slate of 
Anglo-Chinese diplomacy — only to make room, 
however, for another almost equally absurd, for 
it was agreed that when once Chinese steamers 
carrying cargo ran to Ch'ung-kmg, then, and 
not till then, should British steamers have 
access to the port. Chinese diplomacy had 
imposed a veto for a second time upon British 
aspirations. The position of the port and the 
question of steam navigation on the upper 
waters of the Yang-tsze were finally settled, 
as far as diplomacy could settle them, by the 

1 By an additional article to the Chifu Agreement, signed at 
Pekin on March 31st, 1890. 


Treaty of Shimonoseki between Japan and 
China in April 1895, by which Ch'ung-k'ing 
was opened to 4 'the trade, residence, industries, 
and manufactures of Japanese subjects (and by 
virtue of the most favoured nation clause to the 
subjects of other countries) under the same 
conditions and with the same privileges and 
facilities as exist at the present open cities, 
towns, and ports of China " ; and steam naviga- 
tion declared lawful upon the upper waters 
of the Yang-tsze. 

This brief resume of the steps leading up to 
the opening of the commercial gate of West- 
ern China is of value as an example of the 
prodigious expenditure of diplomatic energy 
required in China for so simple a matter as the 
opening of a port to trade. Let me now 
descend for a space from the task of chronicling 
these matters of high state, to the humbler 
duty of narrating the trivial details of my 
own progress. 

The Chinese clerk who had been entrusted 
with the duty of drawing up the necessary 
papers for myself and my companion at Ichang 
had not found leisure during his short but busy 



life for studying the peculiarities of British 
aristocratic titles. It was for this reason no 
doubt that, when our ship's papers came to 
be examined, my companion was found to be 
masquerading under a title as lord Bolt, while 
I was described as Mr Eonald Shay, though 
there was added as an afterthought, or perhaps 
as a sop to my vanity, an explanatory note 
to the effect that I too was a "British lord." 
Perhaps, too, in this confusion of description 
there was an explanation of the fact that we 
found it necessary to thread our way through 
so many yards of Imperial Maritime Custom- 
house red - tape, before being enabled to rid 
ourselves of our boats and establish ourselves 
on shore. The points of detail in connection 
with our identity having been at length satis- 
factorily disposed of, there remained the boat's 
crew to be paid and tipped before we were able 
to call our souls our own. I was satisfied with 
my crew, and decided to give them a substantial 
present in the shape of a silver ingot weighing 
approximately 10 taels, equivalent to about 
£1, 10s. in English money. To men whose ideas 
of money are constructed upon a cash basis, 

VOL. I. G 


some 400 or 500 of which coins go to the 
shilling, a sum equivalent to about 15,000 cash 
is a very large one ; but the Chinese never 
loses his head under any circumstances con- 
nected with money. "Are they pleased?" I 
asked of Joe. "They say, sir, that they 
had expected that you would have given them 
more," was the laconic reply. This sort of 
answer is somewhat staggering until one begins 
to comprehend some of the peculiarities of 
the Chinese mind. 

The streets of Ch'ung-k'ing consist of narrow 
alleys of steep stone steps which, by reason 
of the ceaseless journeyings of countless water- 
carriers, are damp and unspeakably dirty. An 
attempt to erect water -works proved un- 
successful, and this useful reform was vetoed 
in order to enable the water-carriers to con- 
tinue to carry their water-skins to and from 
the river, earning a few cash, and rendering 
the streets abominable to the rest of the 
community. Truly, China is a conservative 

On the whole, Ch'ung-k'ing frowns rather 
than smiles upon the stranger, and a leaden sky, 



which hangs like a pall over the river valley, 
adds appreciably to the gloom of the whole 
picture. Indeed, for general unpleasantness 
the climate would appear to rival that of 
our own country. Listen to the opinion of 
those who live there. " The climate of Ch'ung- 
k'ing is without doubt depressing to a degree to 
foreigners. The dreary skies and damp mists 
prevailing between November and March, the 
fierce heat of summer and practical absence of 
spring and autumn — meaning a quick change 
from hot to cold, and vice versa, — are most 
trying to all ; add to this the effects of isola- 
tion, residence within the city (and all that 
it implies), together with want of means for 
exercise and absence of amusement, and it is 
plain that everything combines to produce a 
state of mental and nervous depression, and 
perhaps a low standard of vitality." 1 Happy 
foreign residents ! Even the Chinese seem to 
have noticed that there is something abnormal 
about the murkiness of their climate, for they 
have a proverb which declares that the dogs of 

1 Report by Mr W. C. Haines Watson, Acting Commis- 
sioner of Customs, 1901. 


Ssiich'uan bark when they see the sun. The 
Ssuch'uan dog is obviously an intelligent and 
observant creature, for in addition to barking 
at the sun he also habitually barks at all 
beggars, tramps, and foreigners. 

Such foreign residents, however, as honour 
Ch'ung-k'ing with their presence are there for 
business, and not for pleasure. Through Ch'ung- 
k'ing passes the bulk of the trade of Western 
China, and those who advocated the opening 
of the port to trade can point confidently to 
the returns in justification of their policy. 
The gross value of the trade of the port 
coming under cognisance of the Imperial 
Maritime Customs has trebled since it was 
opened, having increased from 9,245,737 Hk. 
Tls. in 1892 to 29,001,410 Hk. Tls. } equivalent 
to £4,773,148, in 1906. It is not surprising, 
then, that an air of immense activity pervades 
the town, that the thoroughfares are busy and 
crowded, and that there are streets of com- 
modious and well-stocked shops. The ques- 
tion of trade, however, will be dealt with as 
a whole in a subsequent chapter. 

It was now my intention to travel to 


Ch'engtu, the capital of the province, visiting 
the celebrated salt wells of Tzu-liu-ching on 
the way, and I lost little time in making the 
necessary arrangements for covering the 300 
miles that lay before me. A travelling- chair 
was purchased for 14s., not with any particular 
view to assisting my physical progress, but 
with a view to averting the awful fate held up 
by Colborne Baber before the luckless traveller 
who is without one. I had no desire to be 
" thrust aside on the highway, to be kept wait- 
ing at ferries, to be relegated to the worst 
inn's worst room, and generally to be treated 
with indignity, or, what is sometimes worse, 
with familiarity as a peddling footpad, unable 
to gain a living in my own country " ; there- 
fore, I say, I indulged in an outlay of 14s. on 
a sedan-chair. For the baggage coolies were 
engaged, who guaranteed to carry loads of 
133 lb. apiece, and to cover the distance in 
thirteen marching days, for wages at the rate 
of lOd. per man per day, and an escort was 
applied for and provided by the local officials. 

The Taotai (the highest civil official) was a 
charming old gentleman, who supplied me 


with most valuable information in reply to 
my many inquiries concerning the province. 
No regulations, he said, had as yet been put 
into force for reducing the area of land under 
the poppy in accordance with the imperial 
opium edict which had been issued in Sep- 
tember, " but," he added, " the people have 
been exhorted to give up the cultivation of the 
poppy." It usually requires something more 
than exhortation to persuade a man to give 
up the means of supplying himself with his 
daily bread. An acre of wheat, according to 
Sir Alexander Hosie, will give an average 
yield of grain of the value of £4, 5s. 6d., whereas 
a similar area will produce raw dry opium of 
the value of £5, 16s. 8d. Query, would polite 
exhortation be sufficient to persuade the owner 
of 50 acres to forego a sum of £77, 18s. 4d. a- 
year — £77, 18s. 4d. being equivalent to 779,000 
cash f His answer to my question as to when 
the much-talked-of Ch'ung-k'ing-Ch'engtu rail- 
way would be begun, was happy if not absol- 
utely illuminating, — " I do not know," he said, 
" whether it will be next year." I felt that 
I could safely have enlightened him upon the 



particular point at which his knowledge ap- 
parently failed. 

One other matter called for attention before 
a start could be made — nainely, the matter of 
cash. No amount of ingenuity could succeed 
in devising anything more calculated to dis- 
may and exasperate the Westerner than the 
coinage of China. The Mexican dollar, which 
simplifies matters on the coast, is not recog- 
nised in the interior. The only coin that is 
generally accepted is the cash — a dirty, shape- 
less disc of brass with a square hole through 
the centre. These abominations are strung 
on a string, so many hundreds — the number 
varying according to the district in which 
one happens to be — being deemed the equiva- 
lent of a tael or ounce of silver. During the 
earlier stages of my journey I found from 
1400 to 1500 cash equivalent to the tael (or 
roughly, 450 cash to the shilling), but with 
my onward progress the number steadily de- 
creased, until on the western confines of Yun- 
nan I was seldom lucky enough to get more 
than 800 for my tael of silver. This system 
has, of course, given birth to an important 


class, namely, the money - changers, one or 
more of whom is a dire necessity in every 
village. The village money-changer keeps a 
pair of scales, or rather two pairs of scales, 
one for buying and one for selling, and 
having weighed the lump of silver in ex- 
change for which cash are desired, hands over 
the equivalent number of hundreds, less a few 
cash by way of commission, to his victim. 
Pleasing complications are introduced into the 
pastime of money-changing by the fact that 
a nominal 100 cash does not as a matter 
of actual fact consist of 100, but varies 
from 98 to 33 according to the part of the 
empire in which you happen to be. "No- 
where does a Chinaman mean 1000 cash when 
he speaks of 1000 cash" 1 and the only rule 
which is common to all cash problems through- 
out the eighteen provinces, and the only rule, 
therefore, which the traveller need trouble 
to bear in mind, is the unwritten law 
which decrees that 100 cash may be any 
number except 100. In some districts a 
number, which is more or less constant, is 

1 An Australian in China — Dr Morrison. 


fixed upon for convenience. In Tientsin, for 
instance, as Dr Morrison has pointed out, the 
100 is any number one can pass except 100, 
" though by agreement the 100 is usually es- 
timated at 98." Further variations are intro- 
duced by the difference in quality of the silver 
ingots, some qualities being infinitely more 
valuable than others, the money-changer being 
of course the self-appointed arbiter as to the 
quality of the particular piece of silver which 
he is about to change. The inexhaustible 
fund of inconvenience provided by such a 
system will no doubt suggest itself to the 
reader — such, for instance, as the enormous 
weight of the silver ingots, and still more of 
thousands of cash, especially in a country in 
which the traveller is obliged to rely ex- 
clusively upon human porterage for transport ; 
but perhaps the greatest joke connected with 
the cash system will not have occurred to 
him. It consists in this, that the intrinsic 
value of the metal of which the cash are com- 
posed is considerably in excess of its face value 
as a coin. It follows as an inevitable conse- 
quence that by melting down the cash and 


converting them into household utensils you 
immediately increase its value. It will, of 
course, be asked how it is, if this be so, that 
the whole of the cash of the empire has not 
been melted down long since and converted 
into kettles, pots, and pans ? The difficulty 
was got over by the enactment of stringent 
laws, under which the penalty for melting 
down cash is death. Some effort to improve 
the currency system is now being made, and 
a silver dollar for Ssuch'uan is being minted in 
Ch'engtu. It bears on its face a superscription 
which says that it is equal in value to 72 
cents, though for what inscrutable reason the 
number 72 has been selected, instead of the 
obvious 100, I am at a loss to understand. So 
deeply rooted in the Chinese character, how- 
ever, is the dislike of allowing things to be 
what they seem, that no one — not even a 
Chinaman — has so far succeeded in changing 
one for more than 71 cents. 

Needless to say, I did not attempt to com- 
pete with the Ch'ung-k'ing money-changers in 
arriving at a solution of the various calcula- 
tions which had to be worked out before I 


could be supplied with the requisite number 
of cash and silver ingots. I admitted my 
own immense inferiority in capacity for thread- 
ing my way through the infinite intricacies of 
Chinese finance, and pocketed, metaphorically 
speaking, — it is, of course, quite impossible to 
literally pocket strings of cash, — whatever 
sums I was awarded by the generosity and 
indulgence of the professional financiers. 



ch'ung-k'ing to tzu-liu-ching. 

I left Ch'ung-k'ing on November 27, dis- 
mounting from the confinement of my chair 
as soon as the city gates were passed. The 
roads of Ssuch'uan are of their kind the best 
in all probability in China, but they are not 
ideal from any point of view. They are nar- 
row ways paved with stone, which in moun- 
tainous districts become stone staircases. This 
at once puts the possibility of wheeled trans- 
port out of court and accounts for the prev- 
alence of chairs throughout the province. 
The hardness of the stone is apt to produce 
foot-soreness in the pedestrian, while riding 
on such material is but a poor amusement. 
After leaving the city we plunged into 

S to fie staircases. 


pretty, hilly country, cultivated minutely in 
terraces to the summits of the hills. Large 
numbers of memorial arches spanned the way, 
erected by an admiring posterity, and with 
the gracious consent of a paternal emperor, 
to the memory of those virtuous and con- 
stant widows who had preferred to spend life 
single after the decease of their husbands, to 
taking a second ticket in the matrimonial 

For the whole of the day our paved way 
wound among rounded hills dotted here and 
there with bamboos, cypresses, mulberries, ban- 
yans, and other evergreens. In the lower 
parts the land presented a patchwork of ter- 
raced enclosures under water, while on the 
hillsides were growing indigo, tobacco, wheat 
(a winter crop here), beans, turnips, and poppy 
quite recently sown. The quantity and variety 
of vegetables to be seen growing all over the 
country is, indeed, astonishing ; the people 
themselves are enormously fond of a vegetable 
diet, and " indulge fearlessly in almost every- 
thing green, from clover to the young spring 
shoots of trees." 


We did a short march of sixty H, or roughly 
fifteen miles, and halted for the night at the 
inn in the village of Pai-shih-yi. 

To any one who has travelled in the in- 
terior of China the word "inn" does not 
conjure up those visions of delight which 
excited the enthusiasm of Dr Samuel Johnson. 
"There is nothing," he declared, "which has 
yet been contrived by man, by which so much 
happiness is produced as by a good tavern or 
inn." It would probably be nearer the mark to 
say that "there is nothing which has yet been 
contrived by man, by which so much unhappi- 
ness is produced as by a Chinese tavern or inn!" 
The assertion of Marco Polo that at every 
twenty or thirty miles there is "a large and 
handsome building " in which all the rooms are 
to be found " furnished with fine beds and all 
other necessary articles in rich silk," and where 
everything that can be wanted is provided, 
so that " if even a king were to arrive at one 
of these he would find himself well lodged," 
does not apply to the present day. For the 
next three months and a half I lodged almost 
nightly in a Chinese inn of some sort or 


another, and for plain unadulterated truth 
give me the description of the admirable Abbe 
Hue, who found " the effect of the scene, dimly- 
exhibited by an imperfect wick floating amid 
thick, dirty, stinking oil, whose receptacle is 
ordinarily a broken tea-cup, to be fantastic, 
and to the stranger fearful " ! 

The "everything that can be wanted " of 
Marco Polo is summed up by a wooden trestle- 
bed and a wisp of straw, a wooden table and 
stool, boiled rice and hot water. The rooms 
open on to a stone or mud courtyard, which 
is a receptacle for the accumulated filth of 
the establishment; the windows and doors 
are of paper, pasted on to a wooden frame- 
work, square feet of which are usually miss- 
ing, and on all sides arises what Trinculo 
would describe as "a very ancient and a 
fishlike smell." 

At night the inn becomes a scene of lively 
animation. The coolies troop in by degrees, 
and after disposing of their loads, shout noisily 
for food and hot water. To the European, 
whose organs appear to be more highly devel- 
oped than those of the Ssuch'uan coolie, this 


terrific shouting becomes the source of intense 
irritation. A. Ssuch'uan coolie may not be 
more than a foot away from the individual 
whom he wishes to address, but that makes no 
difference, and he bawls at him at the top of 
his voice, as if he were half a mile away 
instead of standing at his elbow. When some 
thirty or forty men confined within the four 
walls of the inn's courtyard are engaged in 
this harmonious occupation simultaneously, the 
effect on the auricular nerves may be imagined. 
It is only when his food has been put away, 
and when the fumes of the opium-pipe, which 
my coolies invariably carried, have begun to 
work, that peace and comparative quiet de- 
scend upon the building. 

On the following day we tramped about 
twenty-three miles to Ma-fang Chiao. The 
populous nature of this part of Ssuch'uan is 
proclaimed on all sides by the infinite care 
with which every inch of ground is cultivated. 
Moreover, there was much traffic along the 
narrow stone-paved way, and many coolies and 
ponies carrying great bundles of cotton yarn, 
which has travelled all the way from the 

Coohe transport in Ssiich'uan. 


mills of Bombay, to be woven into the common 
cloth which clothes the bulk of the province's 
45,000,000 inhabitants, by the housewives of 
Ssuch'uan. Numerous small towns are scat- 
tered along the road, their streets providing 
a common playground for children, dogs, pigs, 
and poultry, except when a market is being 
held, which is usually the case every fifth day, 
when they become choked with people from 
the districts round. 

The population, which at a modest estimate 
is placed at 45,000,000 to-day, has increased 
rapidly during the past two centuries, for a 
census taken in the year 1710 gave a return 
of only 144,154 souls. This surprisingly small 
population in a province nearly three times the 
size of Great Britain was not, however, due to 
natural causes, but to a rebellion headed by 
three desperadoes, Li Tzu-ch'eng, Chang Hsien- 
chung, and Wang San-huai, in the declining 
years of the Ming dynasty. The most remark- 
able and, as Colborne Baber points out, ulti- 
mately almost the only figure in the story was 
Chang, whose taste for slaughter amounted 
almost to a passion. Some of the reforms 

VOL. I. H 


carried out by him have been collected by 
Baber from De Mailla's history of China, and 
are summarised as follows : — 

Massacred 32,310 undergraduates. 

3000 eunuchs. 

2000 of his own troops. 

27,000 Buddhist priests. 

600,000 inhabitants of Ch'dngtu. 

280 of his own concubines. 

400,000 wives of his troops. 

Everybody else in the province. 
Destroyed Every building in the province. 
Burnt . . Everything inflammable. 
Besides cotton yarn, children and young pigs 
carried in baskets at the end of a carrying-pole, 
and a little salt, were the only other commod- 
ities at all noticeable. I looked anxiously 
among the small shops and market-stalls for 
goods of European make, but the nearest 
approach to foreign articles were matches. 
These, however, on closer acquaintance, proved 
to have been made in two local match factories 
near Ch'ung-k'ing, started in 1894, and given a 
monopoly in the province for twenty-five years, 
and were being sold at a few cash a-box of 

ch'ung-k'ing matches. 


seventy matches. It is interesting as illustra- 
tive of the extreme frugality of the Chinese 
character to note that before laying out the 
sum of three cash — say the fourteenth part of a 
penny — upon a box, the purchaser may be seen 
counting the number of matches in the box, in 
order to assure himself that he is receiving full 
value for his money, and to enable him to dis- 
card any matches found without heads before 
finally concluding his bargain. Even the ubi- 
quitous Japanese match is unable to compete 
on these terms, and if the Japanese match 
cannot, it is difficult to see how any other 
could. The Ch'ung-k'ing match is quite the 
lowest in the scale, and smells horribly, though 
to the sons and daughters of China the smell of 
burning sulphur is doubtless a pleasing varia- 
tion from the usual all-pervading perfume of a 
Chinese home. 

Another two days' march brought us to Yung 
Chang Hsien, a town of some size and import- 
ance. It is celebrated locally for the manufac- 
ture of a cloth from the ramie fibre, which is 
said to be much worn in the hot weather, 
though according to Sir Alexander Hosie " it 


will not bear comparison with Canton grass- 
cloth, which is the finest and most expensive in 
China." 1 The most conspicuous feature in the 
textile line, however, here, as in all the towns 
and villages that I subsequently visited, was 
provided by bundles of coarse, loosely-woven, 
narrow-width, native-made cotton cloth, dyed 
red and green with German aniline dye, which 
is fast taking a hold upon the market, as well 
as plain grey shirting and the more ordinary 
blue. A few shops stocked Manchester goods, 
grey shirting and cotton Italians, for which 
there appears to be a growing demand. 

The man of China is not an easy individual 
to extract information from. He will talk 
volubly, but always vaguely and generally 
irrelevantly. " How much of this do you sell 
in a year ? " I asked of a cloth merchant, point- 
ing to a roll of black Italians. " Oh, several 
tens of pieces," he replied after a few minutes 
of profound thought. " But how many tens ? " 
I persisted. " A few tens," was the laconic 
reply. I had been reading Dr Smith on Chinese 
disregard of accuracy, and I felt that I could 

1 Report on the province of Ssuch'uan. 


endorse his prognostication that " the first 
generation of Chinese chemists will probably 
lose many of its number as a result of the 
process of mixing 1 a few tens of grains ' of 
something with 'several tens of grains' of 
something else, the consequence being an un- 
anticipated earthquake" — and the thought 
made me feel almost happy. Conversation by 
question and answer becomes a sort of game. 
If you desire information upon any particular 
subject, you have to ask a question upon some 
other topic. The difficulty of hitting upon the 
right one is obvious. Over and over again, 
when putting a question through Joe, I would 
get an answer which could by no possible 
ingenuity be made to relate in any way to the 
question. " What is the name of this village ?" 
I would ask. After a few moments of profound 
thought would come the reply, " Yes, that is a 
rice field," or any other equally useless and 
irrelevant reply. Joe gave up translating 
answers of this kind after he had been in my 
service for a short time, realising that infor- 
mation of this kind merely served to exasperate 
me. This particular Chinese characteristic is, 


of course, a very well-known one. Baber, who 
talked Chinese fluently, tells how he once 
stopped to inquire of two men who were hoeing 
a field, what was the purpose of a mound hard 
by. " After listening with evident interest to 
my question, and without making any reply, 
one of them remarked to the other, " How 
much the language, of these foreigners resembles 
ours ! " 

Excellent-looking coal was being brought in 
by coolies in baskets from a mine at Ta-sung- 
sli, said to be distant about ten miles. 

We halted at Lung Chang Hsien on the 
night of December 1st, and on the following 
day left the main road to Ch'engtu, keeping 
west for Tzu-liu-ching. The soil here appeared 
to be rather poorer than that through which 
we had hitherto travelled, and pines grew in 
scanty earth on the hill-tops. For the rest, our 
road wound unevenly among low rounded hills, 
covered for the most part with innumerable 
brakes of sugar-cane. The inevitable bean 
protruded on such space as was not occupied 
by other vegetables, and there was, as usual, a 
good deal of rice land and some poppy. Sugar- 



cane, however, was the crop par excellence 
throughout the day ; and for several days to 
come we passed through many miles of cane- 
brake. " Sugar is a great industry of Ssuch'uan, 
and is largely exported eastwards," but the 
process of manufacture is primitive, and the 
taste is, to my mind, exceedingly nasty. Peter 
was right when he complained to me that the 
" sugar was very sour" ; but acidity is not the 
quality one looks for in sugar. 

I had not been much troubled with Chinese 
curiosity so far, but I was treated to an ex- 
ample of it to-day. I had halted for lunch as 
usual at a small town, and finding no regular 
inn, seated myself at an empty table in the 
principal eating-house, open as usual on to the 
street. The news of my strange presence 
spread like wildfire, and in an incredibly short 
time the population had turued out — men, 
women, and children — to see the foreigner eat. 
Joe had not turned up, and as they crowded 
round while my modest repast was being set 
out, I was constrained to address them in plain 
king's English, pointing out that they would 
all have a better chance of seeing me eat if 


they stood back a little and so widened the 
circle round me. They chose to interpret my 
remarks as an invitation, and pressed so close 
that I had scarcely elbow-room. There is 
something peculiar about the stolid, vacuous 
stare of a Chinese crowd. It affects one var- 
iously according to one's own particular mood ; 
but I have never found it anything but un- 
pleasant. It generally irritates. You feel a 
wild desire to rush in and hit out right and 
left, and chance the consequences. Nothing 
will move it when once it has made up its 
mind that it wishes to place you under its 
observation. It just stares with an exasperat- 
ing, unblinking, vacuous stare. How often 
when gazing at the empty expressionless feat- 
ures of a Chinese face have I recalled the half- 
humorous query which a French diplomatist 
once put to a French bishop apostolic in China : 
" Et croyez-vous vraiement que les Chinois ont 
une ame ? " On this occasion I innocently let 
fall an empty tin which had once contained 
potted meat. The effect among the juvenile 
portion of the audience was instantaneous ; but 
when the air cleared after the struggle which 


ensued, I noticed that the prize had fallen to 
an elderly, and, judging by his attenuated 
moustache and grizzly beard, venerable grand- 
father. On leaving I found that as long as I 
walked, the town was all for accompanying me 
indefinitely on my way, so I took to my chair 
till the sightseers had dropped behind, and 
then walked on to Niu-fu-tu, where I halted 
for the night. An inconvenient crowd here 
was dispersed by an ingenious member of my 
escort, who procured a bucket of water and 
sprinkled the onlookers liberally from the vant- 
age - ground of the inn roof. One more day 
brought us to Tzu-liu-ching, where I called a 
day's halt with a view to inspecting the brine 




Tzu-liu-ching is a considerable town run- 
ning in long straggling streets — narrow and 
desperately dirty — on both sides of an affluent 
of the Lu Ho, called locally the Ching Ho 
or Well river. The surrounding country is 
hilly, and in all directions clusters of skeleton 
derricks may be seen, resembling the derricks 
of an oil -field. But the smoke and smell 
of oil are both absent, the motive - power 
being in every case supplied by buffaloes. 
There are the usual piles of native -made 
cloth, and many shops stocking foreign-made 
fancy goods — perfumes and powders from 
Osaka; looking-glasses, clocks, watches, cigar- 
holders, buttons, and belts from Germany 


and Austria. There are also a great many 
shops stocking foreign piece - goods — a little 
American sheeting and a great deal of English 
shirting and black and coloured Italians, 
besides prints and a few other varieties, — 
proving the prosperous condition of the salt 
industry ; for it is only those who are w r ell- 
to-do who can afford to invest in foreign 
cloths. In one shop I was told by the owner 
that he could sell foreign piece goods to 
the value of 5000 or 6000 strings of cash 
in the year — i.e., £500 or £600. I have 
already warned the reader of the incurable 
antipathy of the Chinese for accuracy. Let 
me warn him again. An acquaintance told 
Dr Smith that two men had spent 200 
strings of cash on a theatrical exhibition, 
adding a moment later, " It was 173 strings, 
but that is the same as 200 — is it not ? " 1 
A large crowd accompanied me during my 
inspection of the town, and made comments 
of varying interest and intelligence whenever 
I stopped to examine the contents on sale 
at any shop. At one stall where I was 

1 'Chinese Characteristics,' p. 54. 


looking at some English shirting, on which 
was written in Eoman letters details as to 
size and place of origin, I was amused to 
learn from Joe that he had just been addressed 
by an interested onlooker, who asked with 
considerable scepticism whether it was probable 
that the barbarian (i.e., myself) could read 
the characters upon the cloth. He was assured 
that there was a strong balance of probability 
in favour of his being able to do so. At 
another shop a Chinese with obviously superior 
knowledge on questions of ethnology informed 
the onlookers that I was a Japanese. After 
which assertion I was ready to accept the 
statement of an amiable well - owner who 
invited me to visit his property, to the 
effect that " not many foreigners came to 

Salt has been worked in Ssiich'uan for the 
past 1700 years, and possibly for much longer. 
The wells range in depth from " a few tens " 
of feet, as the Chinese would say, to over 
2000 feet. The particular well which I 
inspected was said to have a depth of 2300 

Memorial arch in Ssicch'uan. 


Chinese feet. 1 In a shed a short distance 
from the boring, four buffaloes harnessed to 
an immense drum were being driven round 
and round by running attendants. The rope 
was thus wound up, and at the expiration 
of about a quarter of an hour the "baler," 
a cylinder of bamboo, 80 feet in length, 
with a valve at the bottom, was brought to 
the surface. The brine was emptied from 
this into a small tank, from which it was 
conveyed by pipe to a reservoir. Close by 
the brine well was a gas well. The natural 
gas was collected and distributed from the 
mouth of the well by a series of bamboo 
pipes to the evaporating house near by, 
where it was made use of in a number 
of small furnaces, over each of which stood 
a large, shallow, circular pan containing the 
brine. Each pan, we were informed, could 
yield from 130 to 140 catties (173 lb. to 
186 lb.) a -day, and this particular gas 
well supplied sufficient fuel for 200 pans. 
" How many wells are there in the district ? " 

A Chinese foot = 13| inches. 


I asked. But just as I had put this 
important question, one of my Ch'ung-k'ing 
escort broke into the conversation with some 
extremely animated remarks. I stopped in 
my inquiries to gather this fresh flood of 
light which was being thrown upon the 
question. After waiting patiently while his 
remarks were being poured forth, I demanded 
a translation. " He says, sir," declared Joe 
with unruffled seriousness, "that it is an 
extraordinary thing that the gas should 
be invisible so long as it is in the pipe, 
and that it should then become fire im- 
mediately on leaving the mouth of the pipe ! " 
After this illuminating assertion I paid no 
further attention to the puerilities of my 
followers. The interruption, however, had 
distracted the attention of my informant, 
and in reply to my question he answered 
vaguely and in round numbers that there 
were altogether in the district upwards of 
10,000 wells, with an annual output of 
20,000,000 or 30,000,000 catties. The cost 
of the salt on the spot was, he said, about 
13 or 14 cash a catty > plus a Government tax 



of 10 cash a catty. I was further given 
to understand that a well takes anything 
from one to fourteen years to bore. When 
a man has a little capital he starts boring, 
and when the capital is exhausted he per- 
force stops until he has accumulated sufficient 
to go on again — a matter sometimes of years. 

I had not the time to test the accuracy 
of the information given above, and prefer 
therefore to accept the figures of Sir Alexander 
Hosie, than whom no one is better qualified 
to speak on all matters connected with the 
province of Ssuch'uan. The following figures 
are taken from his chapter on the salt industry 
in * Three Years in Western China,' and 
his report on the province of Ssuch'uan 
(China No. 5, 1904). Speaking of the brine- 
fields of Ssuch'uan as a whole, he says : 
" At depths varying from 30 feet to over 
2000 feet brine is found, raised, and evapor- 
ated. ... So great is the supply, and so 
vast the industry, . . . that Ssuch'uan, in 
addition to satisfying home requirements, is 
able to send an immense surplus to Kuei- 
chow, parts of Yun-nan, as well as to the 


eastern provinces." The number of wells 
in the Tzu - liu - ching district is given as 
" over a thousand," and the fire wells as 
about a score ; while the cost of raising the 
brine is placed at from 12 to 14 cash a catty, 
and of evaporation from 2 to 4 cash. 1 " There 
are altogether forty districts of Ssuch'uan 
producing salt, and withered grass, lignite, 
wood, coal, and gas are all taken advantage 
of, each as the others are unavailable for 
fuel." The total output for the province, 
including 4 'illicit" salt — i.e., salt that escapes 
taxation — is estimated by Sir Alexander Hosie 
at not less than 300,000 tons a-year. 

When watching the somewhat primitive 
methods employed in raising the brine, the 
foreigner naturally suggests steam. But, for 
some reason or other, steam-power does not 
appear to appeal to the people of Tzu-liu- 
ching. Two years before, a steam-boiler and 
windlass of foreign manufacture were imported, 

1 A recent report by Mr A. Eose, of the Consular service, 
places the number of wells at 5000, with an approximate 
output of 1,000,000 lb. a-day, and the cost of raising the 
brine at J to f cash a catty. 



but whether the Tzu-liu-ching workmen did 
not understand the mechanism of the machine, 
or whether they saw in it a formidable 
rival and so wrecked it before its real capa- 
bilities became known, it was impossible to 
find out. 1 The only thing that was quite 
certain was that it did not work. My infor- 
mant objected that the cost of coal would 
render it too expensive ; and yet the buffaloes 
employed cost at least £5 apiece to purchase, 
and 300 cash a - day to feed, and only last 
from one to five years. 

During the evening I had a visitor in the 
shape of an itinerant dentist, who showed me 
with much pride a stock of false teeth (made 
in Japan). He had been at Tzu-liu-ching, he 
said, for a month, and had inserted no less 
than 100 teeth in the mouths of the towns- 
people during his stay. I become more and 
more suspicious of round numbers as used by 
the Chinese every day. 

1 Gill states that some time before he was at Tzu-liu-ching 
in 1877, some Chinese connected with a European firm had 
attempted to introduce pumps. " They had only their 
heads broken for their pains by the coolies, who declared 
that their labour was being taken away from them." 
VOL. I. I 


On December 5th we left Tzu-liu-ching and 
accomplished a march over hilly ground all day, 
variously estimated at figures from 90 to 112 li. 
My own estimate was twenty - five miles, 
which I covered on foot between 7.30 a.m. and 
3.30 p.m. For an hour we travelled through 
the populous and built -over environments of 
the salt metropolis, and then emerged into a 
country marked by a series of curious circular 
flat -topped hills, rising above the general 
undulating surface of the country like the tops 
of tea - canisters. On the low ground great 
water-buffaloes plodded ponderously along, up 
to their bellies in water, preparing the rice- 
fields for sowing, while beans and sugar-cane 
monopolised the hillsides. At frequent in- 
tervals along the road small shrines and 
temples were to be seen beneath the green 
bows of the far-spreading banyan. 

After travelling north to the small town of 
Chien Pai, we turned east vid Lung Hui Chen 
to Yang-chia-chang, where we halted for the 
night. A march of fifteen miles on the following 
day brought us to Tzu Chou, on the main road 
once more, and on the two following days we 


accomplished long marches of 100 li each, 
though for some inscrutable Chinese reason 
we were informed that the 100 li march of 
the second day was not so far as the 100 li 
march of the first. The towns we now en- 
countered were large and apparently prosperous. 
Considerable quantities of English piece-goods 
were always to be seen, and many shops 
appeared to flourish solely on the proceeds of 
fancy goods from continental Europe. My 
tour of inspection at Yang-chia-kai, a town at 
which we spent the night of December 8th, 
evoked a chorus of canine disapprobation, — a 
proceeding which Joe (who is acutely conscious 
of the unerring instinct by which the Ssuch'uan 
dog singles out foreigners and beggars for his 
disapproval) attributed to the unwonted fact 
that the sun was shining. " The dogs of Yang- 
chia-kai are true Ssuch'uan dogs," he remarked 
pleasantly to the crowd of gaping onlookers, 
whereat every one laughed. They laughed still 
more when a moment later a beggar in rags 
came hobbling along and shared with us the 
general howl from the pack of curs. 

Among the shops dealing exclusively in 


native produce, the bulk, and the most 
popular, appear to be those displaying on 
their counter the curious medley of food- 
stuffs which appeal so irresistibly to the 
Chinese palate. But even more noticeable 
to the foreigner are certain shops which are 
to be seen in every town and in almost 
every village in Ssuch'uan, in which are 
stocked paper models, of considerable size, of 
horses, houses (perhaps 5 or 6 feet in height), 
men, and animals, and millions of imitation 
paper coins. What can be the use of these 
paper toys, you wonder ? But they are very 
far from being toys : they are, on the contrary, 
important adjuncts in the most important 
ceremonies connected with the strongest and 
most universal religious doctrine of 400,000,000 
of Chinese — the worship of ancestors. All these 
things are burned on the dead man's grave 
in order that in the spiritual world he may 
be provided with the spiritual essence of such 
things as he has been accustomed to in his 
materialised state. 

The thoughtful may learn much from con- 
templating these symbols. In these paper 


houses and goods, in these billions of paper 
cash, thousands of which may be purchased 
by the poorest for a few brass cash, is a 
certain index to many things in the national 
character. It is this exaggerated reverence for 
ancestors which hangs like a millstone round 
the neck of the Chinese. The people live in 
a state of voluntary bondage to the dead. They 
look to the past instead of to the future, and 
when the present generation considers the 
future at all, it is the vital necessity of raising 
posterity, not for the good of his country, but 
for the sole and all-important purpose of being 
assured that when he in his turn is numbered 
among the dead there shall be some one to 
pay him those attentions which he himself has 
lived to pay to some one else, that fills his 
mind. " If you have no children to foul 
the bed, you will have no one to burn paper 
at the grave," and this latter prospect being 
intolerable, the Chinese marries at the earliest 
possible moment, with the fixed determina- 
tion of obviating it. " The hundreds of 
millions of living Chinese are under the most 
galling subjection to the countless thousands of 


millions of the dead."- How then (asks Dr 
Smith), while the people are content to exist 
solely for the benefit of the dead, is it possible 
for them to lift themselves out of the slough 
of stagnation which has clogged their limbs 
for countless generations ? Perhaps the white 
races, or some of them, have something to be 
thankful for on this very score. In Australia 
and America the pinch of Chinese competition 
has already made itself felt. How infinitely 
greater would have been the pinch had not the 
extraordinary " thirst for decomposing under 
the immediate feet of their posterity " chained 
the Chinese race to their own soil ! 

A long march of twenty-five or twenty-six 
miles through driving rain brought us to Cha- 
tien-tzu, a small town situated near the summit 
of a mountain-pass, on December 9th, and early 
the next morning we found ourselves gazing 
down over the wide and intensely fertile 
Ch'engtu plain from the summit of the range. 
A long descent, and then a walk of about ten 
miles across the level of the plain, dotted with 
farmsteads and clumps of bamboo, brought us to 
the suburbs of the capital. After walking for 

ch'£ngtu reached. 


some time down greasy stone streets, between 
the usual rows of shops and stalls, we were 
brought suddenly face to face with a bridge 
spanning a wide stream, on the far side of 
which rose the walls and gates of the city. 
Here, for the next few days, we were hospit- 
ably entertained by Mr Gough of the Consular 
service, who resides in the capital in his 
capacity of Consul - General for the province 
of Scuch'uan, though his residence in Ch'engtu 
in his official capacity is not recognised by the 
Chinese authorities. 




Ch'engtu is undoubtedly a fine city. Sir 
Alexander Hosie declares that it is the finest 
city that he has seen in China, and thinks that 
neither Peking nor Canton will bear comparison 
with it. That it has always been a city of 
great wealth and prosperity may be gathered 
from a remark let drop by Marco Polo : " Also 
there stands upon the bridge the Great Kaan's 
comercque, that is to say, his custom - house, 
where his toll and tax are levied. And I can 
tell you that the dues taken on this bridge 
bring to the lord a thousand pieces of fine 
gold every day and more." It is not, like 
Ch'ung-k'ing, a great distributing centre for 
foreign goods ; but there are large and well- 


stocked shops at which the products of Europe 
and America are on sale, and there must be a 
very large local trade. Silk is conspicuous 
among the local productions, the Ch'engtu Fu 
district itself being responsible for an annual 
production valued at upwards of 3| million 
taels, out of a total production for the whole 
province of Tls. 15,000,000. 

But the commercial interest of Ch'engtu 
takes second place to its political interest. 
It is the capital of the " largest and probably 
the richest province in the empire." It is 
the seat of a viceroy who, in addition to 
administering the internal affairs of his 
kingdom, has the pleasure of keeping an 
eye upon the long line of the nebulous, and 
not infrequently troublous, Tibetan borderland. 
Here is a fertile field for seed-plots of sedi- 
tion and intrigue. In truth, the Tibetans have 
not infrequently treated their Chinese over- 
lords with scant respect. The Abbe Hue gives 
a delightful picture of the attitude of the 
Tibetans of Gaya towards the Chinese official 
who had been deputed to escort him and his 
colleague, M. Gabet, on their memorable 


journey from Lhassa to Ssuch'uan. His de- 
mand for the usual transport, supposed to be 
provided free for the Chinese Government, was 
met with fine contempt. The mandarin raved 
and threatened, but the people of Gaya pre- 
served an attitude " deliciously haughty and 
contemptuous. One of them advanced a step, 
placed, with a sort of wild dignity, his right 
hand on the shoulder of Ly-Kouo-Ngan, and 
after piercing him with his great black eyes, 
shaded with thick eyebrows, 'Man of China,' 
said he, ' listen to me ; dost thou think that 
with an inhabitant of the Valley of Gaya 
there is much difference between cutting off 
the head of a Chinese and that of a goat ? 
The oulah [i.e., transport] will be ready pres- 
ently ; if you do not take it, and go to-day, 
to-morrow the price will be doubled."' The 
stirring description of the adventurous journey 
of Mr Cooper from Ch'engtu to the Tibetan 
frontier in 1868, his imprisonment by the 
Chinese officials, and his final rescue by native 
chiefs, gives a vivid picture of the wild and 
ungoverned condition of the country. Now 



again, in 1905, a serious rising in the Bat hang 
and Litang districts had taken place against 
the Chinese. It had occurred to an ambitious 
and energetic Chinese official, seemingly, that 
much credit, and perhaps some more tangible 
gain, would accrue to himself were he to set 
about reforming the frontier tribes. The 
reforms inaugurated took the shape of re- 
ducing the numbers of, and curtailing the 
privileges and authority of, the lamas. Such a 
thing was not to be tolerated, and the Tibetans 
rose. The offending mandarin suffered the 
extreme penalty for his temerity; but, un- 
fortunately, Europeans became involved in the 
upheaval, and more than one French mission- 
ary was brutally murdered, while an English 
botanist, Mr George Forrest, who happened 
to be collecting plants in the neighbourhood, 
narrowly escaped with his life, after suffering 
the most terrible hardships and privations. A 
punitive expedition was organised, with that 
deliberation which forms so conspicuous a 
feature of Chinese administration, and now 
in the winter of 1906 the troops, said 


to be 5000 or 6000 in number, had just 
returned from a crusade of rapine, pillage, 
and plunder. 

Money was required to pay for such an 
expedition, and the funds of the proposed 
Ch'engtu-Hankow railway lay conveniently at 
hand. I would not, of course, go so far as to 
say that the whole of the sum abstracted for 
the purpose found its way to the pockets of 
those who were supposed to have earned it. 
History sometimes repeats itself, and it is 
worth recalling that Mr Cooper found a similar 
expedition, whose commander remained in 
Ch'engtu, occupied in drawing pay at the 
monthly rate of 14s. a man for a paper army 
of 40,000 men, consisting of 250 men only, 
who had accomplished the truly magnificent 
feat of occupying nearly six months in cover- 
ing a distance of thirty miles. In China 
there is always a big element of uncertainty 
in all official transactions connected with 
finance, and the only point in the present 
arrangement which apparently admitted of no 
doubt, was the abstraction of large sums from 
the fund specifically collected for the purpose 



of railway construction. Armed with this 
knowledge, the local gentry hurled their bolt 
from the blue into the viceregal yamen, in 
the shape of a memorial insisting on the 
restoration to the fund of the sum of 
1,000,000 taels unlawfully extracted. In his 
dilemma the viceroy cast his eyes round, 
and guided by Heaven (?), they chanced to 
light upon the high priest of a neighbouring 
temple who had so far forgotten himself as 
to take unto himself a wife, and who was 
actually found to be the father of a family. 
Could such violation of religious usage be 
tolerated? Not for a moment. Lands and 
property were instantly confiscated, and the 
offending priest paraded in a cangue before 
the scorn of a righteous population. 

The streets in the Chinese city — there is a 
Tartar city adjoining, occupied by a Manchu 
garrison — are comparatively broad, and present 
a scene of lively animation. The gilded sign- 
boards which hung over the streets and 
excited the admiration of Sir Alexander Hosie 
have, however, largely disappeared, the present 
police Taotai, a man of progressive ideas, hold- 


ing the opinion that they encroached unduly 
upon the thoroughfare. Other reforms of an 
even more salutary nature have been carried 
out, the crowds of beggars who formerly en- 
cumbered the city having been taken in hand, 
with the result that they are now to be seen, 
marshalled in bands and shorn of their pig- 
tails, carrying out useful public works under 
police supervision. 

During my stay in the capital I was re- 
ceived in audience by the Viceroy Hsi Liang. 
Social intercourse in China, especially among 
the upper classes, is a science in itself, the 
complex nature of which is quite beyond the 
grasp of the average European intellect. To 
the Chinese versed in all the intricacies of an 
etiquette which is the product of generations 
of the most subtle-minded race on earth, every 
action, every gesture, every carefully-worded 
phrase, is replete with hidden meaning. The 
flattered foreigner, complacently accepting at 
their face value the flowery compliments dis- 
charged at him, may, for all he can tell, be 
the object all the time of biting insult and 
studied affront. He has probably himself 



violated, in his ignorance, the most sacred 
canons of correct behaviour. On one occasion 
I, in my ignorance, removed my hat on enter- 
ing the reception - room of an official with 
whom I desired an interview. My host 
immediately rose and stripped off his outer 
garments ! I was completely at a loss to 
understand his behaviour; but I have no 
doubt, now, that it was to be quits with me 
for my lack of respect in removing my hat. 
After this I learned off by heart such details 
of behaviour as are absolutely necessary, and 
for the rest trusted to luck not to appear 
too hopelessly gauche in the eyes of my 
hosts. When I remembered to shake hands 
cordially with myself instead of with my host 
on arrival and departure, to keep my hat 
fixed firmly upon my head instead of taking 
it off, to take the cup of tea which he would 
hand me but on no account to drink it until 
the moment of leaving, to accept the tit- 
bit picked out of the dishes on the table and 
placed on my plate by my host's own long- 
nailed fingers, and to return the compliment 
by selecting some particularly dainty-looking 


morsel to bestow upon him, I felt that I had 
done all that could be expected of me. So 
far as I am capable of judging, my interview 
with his Excellency Hsi Liang passed off 
without any very grave breach of decorum 
upon my part, and upon my expressing a 
desire to inspect the arsenal he gave me a 
cordial invitation to lunch with him at that 

I found the arsenal in a state of change. 
Enlarged premises were in course of prepara- 
tion outside the city, and supplies of German 
machinery were on the way, a German fore- 
man having already reached the capital to 
supervise the setting up of the new plant. 
These are the things that at present fire the 
enthusiasm of young China. The hetero- 
geneous collection of machinery bearing the 
names of firms from Leeds, Glasgow, Man- 
chester, London, and the United States which 
I saw, is symbolic of the confusion and lack 
of method of the past. Five Mauser rifles 
were being turned out per diem ; but the 
capacity of the new works is to be fifty. The 



mint, which is in the same compound as the 
arsenal, likewise reflects the spirit of the 
times, for here I saw the new Chinese rupee — 
the first coin upon which the head of any 
Chinese emperor has ever been struck — being 
turned out in large numbers. Its origin is 
due to the fact that considerable numbers of 
Indian rupees have for many years filtered 
through from Tibet to Western China. That 
a coin bearing the features of an alien monarch 
should find favour with the subjects of the 
" Son of Heaven " was not to be borne by 
an official inspired by the new creed, which 
preaches the practice of modern methods for 
asserting the ancient doctrine of China for 
the Chinese. A memorial to the throne met 
with a favourable reply, and now coins the 
exact copy of the Indian rupee, but bearing the 
portrait of the occupant of the Dragon throne, 
were being despatched to Ta-Chien-lu at the 
rate of one and three-quarter millions a-year. 
We lunched sumptuously and at length, dishes 
from the cookery-books of Europe alternating 
with bird's-nest soup, sharks' fins, sea-slugs, 

VOL. I. K 


lotus-seeds in syrup, and other delicacies, the 
receipts for which remain locked in the bosoms 
of Celestial cooks. 

The college for modern learning, erected in 
compliance with the peace protocol of 1900, 
I found in a flourishing condition, with 378 
students voraciously seeking the knowledge of 
the peoples of the West. It started late and 
badly, a building for the purpose having been 
reluctantly erected by official orders in 1904, 
which building had shortly afterwards to be 
destroyed as unsafe, the contractor having 
expended upon it only 10,000 out of the 
30,000 taels for which he contracted to do 
the work. Students were not easy to find; 
but with the tremendous impetus given to 
innovation in all parts of China as the Eusso- 
Japanese war developed, a change came over 
the people of Ssuch'uan, and before long the 
difficulty of securing students was replaced by 
the difficulty of accommodating all those who 
desired to learn. 

Before leaving Ch'engtu I cashed a draft 
obtained in Shanghai. The ancient banking 
system of China is in the hands of the men 



of a single province, the province of Shansi, 
and their code of honour is of the most 
exacting description. I have already had 
occasion to remark upon the hopeless in- 
convenience of Chinese coinage. It is one 
of the surprises of this extraordinary country 
that side by side with the most primitive 
system of coinage should exist a most efficient 
banking system, spread like a network over 
the whole of the empire. Surprise gives way 
to unfeigned astonishment when it is realised 
that the banking system of China is the 
oldest in the world, and was the father, in 
all probability, of the vast credit and ex- 
change system of Europe. The oldest bank- 
note known to be extant is a Chinese bank- 
note issued during the reign of Hung Wu 
in the fourteenth century, 300 years before 
the issue of bank-notes in Europe, and 600 
years after their earliest appearance in Asia. 
There is, indeed, little doubt that Europe has 
to thank Asia for the foundations of her 
modern civilisation. If she suffered grievous 
affliction at the hands of the invading legions 
of Asia, she was at any rate amply repaid. 


For it was thanks in large measure to the 
intercourse between East and West, which 
was generated by the clash of nations at the 
time when the turbulent Mongol hordes 
thundered at her gates, that Europe acquired 
the century-old inventions of Asia. Know- 
ledge of the polarity of the lodestone, the 
art of printing, the rude power of gunpowder, 
— these were some of the gifts culled from the 
superior stores of Asian wisdom. "By the 
shock of nations the darkness of the middle 
ages was dispersed. Calamities which at first 
aspect seemed merely destined to afflict man- 
kind, served to arouse it from the lethargy 
in which it had remained for ages ; and 
the subversion of twenty empires was the 
price at which Providence accorded to Europe 
the light of modern civilisation." 1 

When one bears in mind the long start 
which Asia enjoyed along the road of pro- 
gress, the backward place which she occupies 
to-day appears all the more remarkable. The 
tremendous strides which China will have 
to take before recovering her place among 

1 M. Abel Rdmusat. 


the competing nations of the world are forced 
upon the notice of the traveller at every 
turn. Thus the immense obstacles which 
stand in the way of even so elementary 
and so necessary a reform as the construc- 
tion of railways were brought to light during 
my stay at Ch'engtu by the publication, for 
the first time, of a balance-sheet of the pro- 
ceeds of three years' enforced contributions 
and taxation towards a fund for building a 
line from Ch'engtu to Hankow. This docu- 
ment, though interesting as a curiosity, was 
of little value as a statement of accounts, 
since, as I have already mentioned, a portion 
at least of the miserably inadequate sum 
of 4J million tads — say £677,000 — said to 
be in hand had been abstracted, temporarily 
at any rate, to pay for the punitive expedi- 
tion to the borders of Tibet, while it was 
generally reported that of the remainder 
the greater part had been commandeered 
provide machinery for the arsenal and mints 
at Ch'engtu and Chung-k'ing, — a state of 
affairs which was even hinted at by the 
balance-sheet itself, in which it was affirmed 


that the sum of million taels was " held 
at interest in the mint of Ch'ung-k'ing." 
The true inwardness of this admission can 
only be appreciated by those who, like my- 
self, have seen large portions of the material 
and machinery intended for the new mint, 
lying wrecked in various rocky reaches of 
the Yang-tsze, or by those who may have 
chanced to notice a significant paragraph in 
the report of the Commissioner of Customs 
for Ch'ung-k'ing for 1905, which, after not- 
ing that a Taotai had been sent by the 
Viceroy to establish a mint, went on to say 
that " dissatisfaction was apparent before long 
at the rapidity with which money was being 
spent without much result, and the Taotai 
was superseded." 

It was, of course, a case of the old, old story 
which appears in every conceivable variation 
over all official transactions in China, and 
which is summed up simply and accurately 
in the one word " squeeze." The stolid, 
patient Chinese peasant will stand much 
before expressing his disapproval, but there 
were not wanting signs that the people of 



Ssuch'uan were beginning to think of enter- 
ing their protest. An ingenious method of 
raising money had for some time been put 
into force. A special income tax of 3 per 
cent was being levied on all who possessed 
an income of more than ten piculs of rice. 
In order to make it clear that this tax was 
levied in the interests of the taxpayer, it 
was declared that interest at the rate of 
4 per cent would be paid on the sum 
thus raised, and that when any individual 
taxpayers contribution had amounted to 50 
taels he would be awarded a share in the 
Ch'engtu-Hankow railway scheme. This mag- 
nificent prospect did not appear to excite 
the enthusiasm among the taxpayers that 
was hoped for, and at the time of my arrival 
at the capital inflammatory placards appeared 
in the neighbourhood, in which it was 
pointed out that while taxation was increas- 
ing, the interests of the people were being 
neglected, and amiably concluding, in one 
case, by offering rewards for all foreigners 
brought in dead or alive, and by appointing 
a date for a general attack upon the foreign 


population. This incipient display of discon- 
tent was capably dealt with by the Viceroy, 
a single execution proving effective in nip- 
ping disturbance in the bud; but it served 
to show that further burdens would be 
resented by the people, and the funds for 
the construction of the Ssuch'uan railways 
will be whistled for for many a day to 
come. By any one who knows China, the 
value of her avowal that she can build 
her own railways without having recourse 
to foreign loans, will be accurately gauged. 1 

1 According to the latest information the estimated cost of 
the proposed railway from Ch'engtu to Hankow is 1,000,000,000 
taels, and the amount collected 7,000,000 taels. 



ch'exgtu to sui fu. 

I left Ch'engtu in a rather inferior huadza 
on December 17th. 1 The price demanded 
for the six or seven days' journey down 
the Min river to Sui Fu at its junction 
with the Yang-tsze was 90 taels, and the 
exorbitant sum finally decided upon was 70 
taels. The European never seems to have 
the limitless amount of time at his disposal 
which the Easterner has, and he is conse- 
quently at a hopeless disadvantage when 
entering upon bargaining operations. As it 
was, it took me two days of valuable time 
to reduce the 90 taels demanded to 70. 

1 Mr Belt had already left in another direction, and hence- 
forth I travelled alone. 


The crew of ten hands received precisely 
one-tenth of this sum between them, the 
foreman and helmsman receiving 2000 cash 
each (4s. 4d.) and the ordinary boatmen 
800 cash each (Is. 7d.) for the journey 
of seven clays, — 2-fd. a -day for an able- 
bodied labourer working from dawn till 

By evening on the 18th we tied up at 
Chang-kou, at the junction of the Ch'engtu 
branch of the river and the main stream 
which comes from Kuan Hsien. This latter 
place is the headquarters of the vast system 
of irrigation which gives the Ch'engtu plain 
its immense agricultural prosperity, and 
which dates back over 2000 years. Two 
Chinese officials, Li the first and Li the 
second, father and son, are credited with 
the authorship of this great work, and in 
their memory two temples stand to this 
day overlooking the waters which they 
tamed. " Dig deep the bars ; keep low the 
dykes," is the command given by Li, and 
carved in stone in the temple standing in 
his honour ; and strange to say, " during 
the long succession of years since Li's death, 



through all the changes of dynasties and 
political turmoils of which Ssuch'uan has 
been the scene, we read in the native 
history of the province that the annual 
alternate damming of the rivers and the 
digging out of their beds — which may be 
seen in operation to-day in the winter 
season — has never been pretermitted ; and 
this while throughout the empire generally 
all the great works of old have been ruined 
by neglect and suffered to fall into irrepar- 
able decay." 1 

Early on the morning of the 21st we reached 
Chia-ting Fu, a considerable town built on a 
spit of land running out between the Min 
and Ya rivers, whose waters unite immediately 
below the city. Cliffs of red sandstone rise 
steeply from the water's edge, and these are 
honeycombed with numbers of Man-tzu caves, 
several of which I entered. The cave-dwelling 
aborigines are despised by the Chinese, who 
call them Man-tzu or wild people. Facing 

i 'The Far East,' by Mr Archibald Little. Two papers 
by Mr Joshua Vale, of the China Inland Mission, deal 
with these irrigation works in detail. They will be found 
in the Journal of the China Branch of the Royal Asiatic 
Society, vol. xxxiii. (1901) and vol. xxxvi. (1905). 


the town a huge Buddha, 304 feet in height, 
is carved crudely on the cliff, while in dim out- 
line in the distance, looming faintly through 
the mist, I could just make out the far-famed 
summit of Mount O-mei, the sacred mountain 
of Western China. 

The town wears an undeniable air of pros- 
perity, and indeed there is said to be much 
money in the place, many of the rich salt- 
well owners making it their place of residence. 
It is also the centre of the white wax industry, 
and in a large warehouse I saw huge stacks 
of circular white cakes resembling small mill- 
stones. It is used chiefly for candle-making 
and paper - glazing, though it is also em- 
ployed in a variety of minor ways — as a 
coating for medicinal pills, for instance. 

Silk is another large industry, and is said 
to be good and cheap. Large shops open 
into the streets, in which the weavers may 
be seen at work. The pay of the workmen 
is 1 tael cent (fd.) a foot, and a skilful weaver 
will do 10 feet in the day, earning 4d. in 
addition to his board. German aniline dyes 
are used for colouring the silks, and tins of 


these were to be seen on sale. Inquiries 
among the piece-goods merchants elicited the 
information that there is a larger demand 
for black Italians than for any other class 
of the higher quality cotton goods ; but I 
was also told that there was a very consider- 
able demand for a thin striped material of 
Japanese make. This is much worn in summer 
and is cheap, a retail merchant only asking 
me 70 cash a foot, this being also the price 
of the lowest quality Manchester grey shirting 

In one of the busiest parts of the town 
many new and commodious shops were just 
being completed. A fire had burned down 
a whole district during the previous summer, 
and, surrounded by the new buildings, one 
site remained a charred and blackened rubbish- 
heap. It was here that the house in which 
the fire originated had stood, and a rubbish- 
heap it would remain, for public opinion — a 
force far stronger than any law — demanded 
that this should be so, as penalty for the 
cause of so much damage. 

I left Chia-ting Fu on December 22nd, and, 


with a strong current behind me, reached Sui 
Fu early on the afternoon of the 23rd. Here 
I was welcomed by Mr and Mrs Faers of 
the China Inland Mission, who entertained 
me hospitably till I left again on the 26th. 

Sui Fu bears an unenviable reputation for 
crime, — a reputation which, it is to be feared, 
is only too well founded. The fact that it 
is situated close to the point of contact of 
three provinces — Ssuch'uan, Ylin-nan, and 
Kuei-chow — accounts, no doubt, to some ex- 
tent for its evil name, since a large proportion 
of the convictions are for highway robbery. 
It is the custom of the highwaymen, after 
committing an offence in one province, to slip 
across the frontier of one or other of the 
adjoining provinces, with a view to eluding 
capture by escaping beyond the jurisdiction 
of the district in which the crime has been 
committed. Nevertheless, criminals are brought 
to book in large numbers, and the magistrate 
responsible for the administration of the law 
appeared to be a veritable Judge JefFeries for 
the severity of his sentences. When calling 
upon him officially I was kept waiting in my 


chair at the entrance to the inner courtyard 
of his yamen. When the gates were flung 
open, behold a criminal kneeling on the ground 
with sturdy lictors standing on either side. 
My arrival happened to have coincided with 
the administration of 1000 strokes with the 
bamboo. At the completion of the first 500 
blows, execution was stayed pending my 
audience, which lasted about twenty minutes, 
and resumed upon my departure. 

My interest in Chinese reformatory methods 
was sufficiently aroused by this glimpse to 
induce me to pay an unofficial visit to the 
yamen courtyard on the following morning, 
and the insight into Chinese magisterial 
methods which half an hour's inspection gave 
me, more than repaid me for my trouble. In 
the street itself, immediately in front of the 
courtyard gateway, lay two stiff and twisted 
corpses, scantily clad in rags and tatters, — two 
hideous distorted human husks, pitchforked 
out of the adjacent prison just as they had 
died during the night. Here they would be 
left during the day in the hopes that some 
relative might turn up to claim and bury 


them. In the event of no one evincing any 
desire to perform this last rite for them, they 
would be disposed of without further cere- 
mony by the authorities. Next I gazed into 
a cell known as the "Tiger's Mouth." On 
the securely barred door giving access to this 
dungeon is depicted a roaring tiger with jaws 
distended. The gaping throat does actually 
consist of a circular hole in the panel, per- 
haps 10 inches in diameter, which acts as a 
small window to the cell. Inside this chamber 
dwelt such prisoners as were condemned to 
life sentences, and who would consequently 
only emerge again dead or to die at the 
hands of the executioner. They appeared to 
be quite happy and contented, and were en- 
gaged in carrying on a lucrative trade with 
the outside world as pawnbrokers. One inmate 
of many years' standing was said to be worth 
many thousands of taels. Beyond the " Tiger's 
Mouth" was to be seen a motley collection of 
minor malefactors, clothed in rags and secured 
with chains, squatting in unsavoury groups 
on either side of the gateway. Some were 
chained together in pairs, and were obliged 


to eat, sleep, and have their being in such 
proximity to one another as a chain 18 inches 
in length necessitated. One pair of these 
artificially constructed Siamese twins I met 
taking a walk in the courtyard. " How long 
have you been chained together ? " I asked. 
"Two hundred days," was the reply. But 
perhaps most pitiful of all were four narrow 
upright cages of wood, each containing a 
human victim. Amongst these behold my 
friend of the day before, who, after receiving 
1000 strokes with the bamboo, had been 
caged up. These cages hang from the gate- 
way arch, so that all who pass by may see 
and jeer. The lid of the cage is of wood, 
and closes round the victim's neck, which 
protrudes through a circular hole, the head 
thus being left outside the cage. A single 
narrow rung constitutes the floor of the cage, 
upon which the wretched inmate is con- 
strained to stand hour after hour for the 
simple reason that if he did not he must 
infallibly fall through and break his neck. 
The particular individual in whom I was 
interested said that he had stood thus all 

VOL. I. L 


night, and did not know for how many more 
days and nights he might have to go on 
doing so. He was fed by the gaoler, since 
his hands and arms were inside the cage and 
his head outside, and communication between 
the two consequently out of the question. I 
left appreciating, to some extent, the cheap- 
ness of life in China. 

An entertainment of a very different sort 
was provided by the first annual " sports " 
of the newly established Sui Fu College. 
From eight in the morning until four in the 
afternoon a crowd of at least 10,000 onlookers 
watched and applauded a full programme of 
keenly contested races. The victors in feats 
of bodily prowess were the heroes of the day, 
and this in the heart of a country in which 
but yesterday the ideal scholar was a literary 
fossil, with claws on his hands several inches 
in length, incapable of doing any one thing 
(except to teach at school) by which he could 
keep soul and body together. 1 Truly here 
was a new China with a vengeance. 

1 See Dr Smith's 1 Chinese Characteristics, 5 p. 104. 




Thanks to the kindness of Mr Faers, my 
preparations for resuming the road once more 
were soon completed. The smiling hills and 
valleys of Ssuch'uan, with its teeming popula- 
tion, its enormously developed agricultural 
wealth, its vast neglected mineral resources, 
and its magnificent waterways, lay behind : 
before me stretched a different land — the 
rugged gorges and plateaux of Ytin - nan, 
sparsely populated, ill-developed, a land the 
despair alike of the merchant and the engineer, 
yet a land which, on account of its geographical 
position, has succeeded in setting England and 
France bidding for the privilege of building 
railways across its rugged surface and striving 
to build up trade upon its ungracious soil. 


From here on, until I reached Burma and 
civilisation, I proposed to proceed on foot, and 
on December 26th my party of coolies, chair- 
bearers, soldiers, and servants — a motley crowd 
of forty souls in all — moved out of Sui Fu. 
The first eighteen miles took us up the left 
bank of the Yang-tsze to the village of An-pien, 
whence a five days' tramp, during which we 
followed, as far as the exigencies of gorge 
and precipice would allow, the turbulent tor- 
rent of a tributary from the south, the Ta-kuan 
Ho, brought us to Lao-wa-t'an, the Customs 
barrier between Ssuch'uan and Ylin-nan. The 
road, which perhaps scarcely deserves the un- 
measured condemnation which it appears to 
have called forth from such travellers as have 
covered it, is a stony, but tolerable, mountain 
track, which swarmed with coolies carrying 
skins, hides, copper, and lead from Ylin-nan, 
and salt and cottons from Ssuch'uan. Large 
cases of cartridges, too, from K}moch of Bir- 
mingham, were being carried painfully along 
on the backs of bent and stunted coolies, 
destined for the troops of Ylin-nan Fu. Let 
those whose enthusiasm has led them to pit 



schemes for land communication from Burma 
cheerfully and without due consideration of 
all the circumstances against the natural inlet 
into Western China provided by the Yang-tsze, 
take note of this. 

On the fourth day we crossed the boundary 
between the two provinces. The Ta-kuan 
river bored its way through crumpled gorges, 
cultivation appeared only in tiny patches, and 
steep slopes of cactus and rank grass took 
the place of the terraced hillsides of Ssuch'uan. 
The district was said to be infested by robbers, 
who find this wild borderland of three prov- 
inces — Ssuch'uan, Yiin-nan and Kuei-chow — 
a convenient field for carrying on their preda- 
tory occupation. And as if to confirm the 
rumours with which we were regaled, there 
in front of us, on rounding a corner, appeared 
three brigands in the flesh, heavily chained and 
travelling under escort of three rugged soldiers 
to the little town of Ta-kuan, where, so we 
were informed, several executions had already 
taken place. 

Lao - wa - t'an consists simply of a long 
straggling street, at the end of which the 


route crosses the river by a fair bridge. It 
would be difficult to find a better situation 
for a Customs barrier, for the valley up which 
the road lies is so narrow and the mountain- 
sides so precipitous that it would be wellnigh 
impossible for laden coolies to travel by any 
other route. The distance from Sui Fu may 
be taken as not more than 76 miles, — an 
estimate which I arrived at by allowing an 
average of 3 miles to the hour as my speed 
while actually walking. Mr Little, who trav- 
elled over this road in 1904, makes the 
distance 80 miles; Consul Bourne, in his section 
of the report of the Blackburn Commercial 
Mission, 111 miles ; and Messrs Neville and 
Bell, in their section of the same report, 137 
miles. One does not look for mathematical 
accuracy in Western China, but there would 
seem to be a quite inexcusable difference of 
opinion here. The probability is that the 
members of the Mission translated the Chinese 
li into miles, a li in this part of China being 
generally considered to be the equivalent of 
a quarter of an English mile. But this method 
is productive of incorrect results, because, as 


every one who has travelled in Western China 
ought to know, the li is not bound by the 
limitations of the ordinary standard of linear 
measurement, but is affected to no small extent 
by the nature of the ground which it purports 
to measure. Thus, though it may be 3000 
li from Lao-wa-t'an to Sui Fu, it does not 
in the least follow that it is 3000 li from 
Sui Fu to Lao-wa-t'an, the explanation of this 
apparent mathematical contradiction being pro- 
vided by the fact that it is up-hill one way and 
down-hill the other. Time as well as distance 
has a direct bearing on the nature of the li, and 
since it takes longer to travel up-hill from 
A to B than it does to travel down - hill 
from B to A, there must obviously be a greater 
number of li between A and B than there are 
between B and A. Quod erat demonstrandum. 

On New Year's day 1907 I left the temple 
at Lao-wa-t'an, which had seemed to be a 
degree less dirty than the inn, and which I 
had consequently occupied for the night, and 
crossing the suspension bridge climbed to the 
summit of a mountain spur over which the 
track passes, in order to avoid the extra 


distance caused by a big bend in the river. 
Henceforth pack-ponies competed with coolies, 
and not far from the summit of the pass 
towards which we were climbing, an unwary- 
animal with a load of copper lost his footing 
on the stone-paved track, which was rendered 
as slippery as ice by mist and rain, and crashed 
head foremost down the hillside. A descent 
on the far side, similar to the ascent, brought 
us back to the Ta-kuan river, and to the 
little hamlet of Tou-sha-kuan, where I spent 
the night. All round, grey -blue limestone 
rose in sharp fantastic peaks, closing in the 
valley and defying even a Chinaman to culti- 
vate their slopes. There is, indeed, little to 
appeal to the casual traveller along this route, 
and for four more days I experienced the 
monotony of the barren defiles of the Ta-kuan 
river, halting for the nights at the villages 
of Chi-li-pu, Ta-wan-tzu, and Ta-kuan Ting. 

About ten miles beyond Ta-kuan Ting we 
were confronted with a steep hillside, walling 
in the end of the valley, at the foot of 
which the river issued from a subterranean 

chao-t'ung fu reached. 169 

passage. At the summit of this natural barrier 
we were at last clear of the prison valley of the 
Ta-kuan Ho, and on the rim of the great 
central plateau of Yiin-nan. The sun shone 
from a clear sky, and behind and below us 
we looked back upon the grey pall of cloud 
which broods over the lower regions of 
Ssuch'uan. We were, in all truth, at last in 
Yiin-nan — the land "south of the clouds." Two 
miles over a flat, peaty, grass-covered table- 
land, hedged in between ranges of mountains, 
brought us to the tiny village of Wu-chai, 
6000 feet above the sea. From here, a march 
of about twenty-two miles over a level plain, 
except for one mountain-ridge of no very 
great height, brought me on the morrow to 
Chao-t'ung Fu, a moderate-sized town situated 
in the centre of an agricultural plain. I 
made the distance from Sui Fu 160 miles — 
but 160 miles of gaping chasm and frowning 
precipice, which it had taken us twelve days 
to cover. Here I was hospitably entertained 
by Dr and Mrs Savin of the Bible Christian 
Mission, and right glad I was to find myself 


for a brief space enjoying the comfort and 
cleanliness of an English home and the 
pleasant society of fellow-countrymen. 

The country all round looks bare and brown, 
plough land, some of which is irrigated, cover- 
ing the plain. On all sides, filling in the 
distance, rise mountains of a ruddy- coloured 
soil. Maize is the chief grain produced, and 
as soon as it is harvested, poppy is sown. 
This is, of course, by far the most valuable 
crop which the province produces, Yun-nan 
opium having a particularly good name ; and 
the farmers were said to be in a state of 
nervous irritation owing to a belief on their 
part that the authorities were actually think- 
ing of taking steps to reduce the cultivation 
of the poppy, in accordance with the recently 
issued proclamation at Peking. Nor was this 
reflex of the anti-opium movement — of which 
more anon — the only symptom of that curious, 
indefinable, yet palpable process of change 
which is making itself apparent even in the 
most remote corners of the Chinese empire, 
and which promises " nothing short of the 
complete renovation of the oldest, most popu- 


lous, and most conservative of empires." 1 
For pamphlets, compiled by Ytin-nan students 
who had studied in Japan, had been recently 
distributed exhorting their fellow-countrymen 
to treat strangers and foreigners with all 
respect, but at the same time to make them- 
selves strong, and to resist strenuously en- 
croachments upon their province from without. 
France, it was pointed out, was a dangerous 
neighbour, who was even now constructing a 
railway into the heart of Ytin-nan. Let them 
see to it that no more such concessions were 
granted to foreign Powers. 

I was obliged to spend a day at Chao-t'ung 
Fu bargaining with my men. A thousand 
mule - loads of ammunition were being sent 
through to the capital, with the result that 
transport was scarce and prices high. Event- 
ually I came to terms with the men who had 
accompanied me from Sui Fu to take me to 
Ytin-nan Fu, 5 taels — roughly 15s. — being the 
price agreed upon for the chair-bearers, and 
a trifle less for the ordinary coolies, for the 
thirteen days' march. 

1 1 The Awakening of China ' — Dr Martin. 


On January 8th, a short fifteen miles across 
level plain brought me to the hamlet of Tao 
Yuan, or "the spring among the peach-trees," 
— an attractive but singularly delusive title. 
Indications of famine, which had recently laid 
a heavy hand upon the province, were to be 
seen in a series of proclamations which warned 
the people, under pain of severe punishment, 
to save up their grain, and not to waste it 
in the making of spirit. 

I had now travelled for two days over the 
so-called Yiin-nan plateau, and for these two 
whole days I was happy in my belief that 
the journey before me was to consist of a 
succession of pleasant marches over a com- 
paratively level table -land, with an average 
altitude of from 6000 to 7000 feet. It was 
on January 9th that this illusion began to 
be dispelled. During the morning we climbed 
steadily up-hill to the summit of a pass 8000 
feet above sea-level, and then dropped head- 
long some 3600 feet to the bottom of a wild 
and desolate valley, along which brawled and 
bubbled the Niu-lan river on its way to join 
the Yang - tsze to the north-west, — a rise and 

Coolie transport in Yun-nan. 



fall of between 5000 and 6000 feet in sixteen 
miles. Moreover, rising in rugged defiance 
in front of us was another range, the lowest 
point in which touched upwards of 7000 feet. 
" Talk of railways by this route," ejaculated 
Sir Alexander Hosie when he reached the valley 
of the Niu-lan twenty years before ; "as well 
talk of railways to the moon " — and I felt moved 
to agree with him. 

At the summit of the pass looking down 
upon the Niu-lan river, where two or three 
miserable hovels stood huddled together, were 
posted imperial proclamations, in accordance 
with the Chifu Agreement arising out of the 
murder of Mr Margary in 1875, adjuring the 
people to be civil and friendly to foreigners. 
The people of Chiang -ti, the village on the 
precipitous banks of the Niu-lan at which I 
was to halt for the night, showed their friend- 
ship for me by refusing the messenger, whom 
I had sent on, accommodation, and intimating 
that they wished to have no truck with the 
" foreign devil." The official at Chao-t'ung Fu, 
either by accident or by design, had omitted 
to send me the customary escort, and with- 


out this material manifestation of authority 
to awe the populace I was constrained to 
put up with such quarters as I could get, 
and to spend a disturbed night in the midst 
of a crowd of brawling and quarrelsome coolies 
and muleteers, who gambled and fought by 
turn until finally lulled to slumber by the 
soothing fumes of the opium-pipe. 

At 7000 feet we reached the summit of 
the range on the south side of the Niu-lan 
river, and then dropped again into an open, 
flat-bottomed valley, well cultivated, at the 
end of which stands the village of I-che-hsun, 
where I spent the night. For the next two 
days we picked our way through a tumbled 
labyrinth of brick -red mountains, patched 
with pine, walnut, and the " wax - tree." 
Sometimes we descended abruptly hundreds 
of feet to flat - bottomed valleys possessing 
neither entrance nor exit, with the result that 
we had almost immediately to climb hundreds 
of feet up again in order to get out on the 
other side. This is the country of " alter- 
nating bare, wind-swept downs and precipitous 
canons," an inhospitable land, miles upon 



miles of which may be traversed with not 
so much as a house to be seen, through 
which the Blackburn Commercial Mission 
passed in 1897. Their comment is pathetic : 
"On March 31st, we travelled twenty -five 
miles without seeing a village. And there 
was no work for us to do — a commercial 
mission in the Sahara. In truth, from Lao- 
wa-t'an to K'ung-shan the country is at present 
of no possible value for commerce. The 
people are very poor, and clad exclusively — 
when clad at all — in Sha-shih cotton cloth ; 
but they can scarcely afford sufficient cloth- 
ing." It was a relief to drop, on January 
12th, from a high range to the long and 
well - cultivated valley in which lies the city 
of Tung-ch'uan Fu, the second place worthy 
of the name of town between Sui Fu and 
Yun-nan Fu. The distance between Chao- 
t'ung Fu and Tung-ch'uan Fu is mentioned 
by Morrison as 110 miles ; but my own 
estimate was 83 miles. The valley wore 
quite an air of prosperity after the bleak up- 
lands over which we had been travelling. 
Wild-blossom gave the land an appearance 


of approaching spring, irrigated fields filled 
the valley bottom, wild-duck circled overhead, 
and cranes stood demurely and contentedly 
in the soaking paddy-fields. 

Once again I found myself indebted to the 
members of the Bible Christian Mission, for 
I received a warm welcome and a cordial 
invitation from Mr and Mrs Dymond. There 
was no great stock of foreign goods to be 
seen in the town, Indian yarn constituting 
the chief article of consumption in this cate- 
gory, a good deal of weaving being carried 
on in the district. Here, too, as at Chao- 
t'ung, the spirit of reform stalked abroad. 
Celebrations had been held at the time of the 
edict promising a Constitution, and political 
speeches had been made. The humiliating 
treatment of the Chinese in America was 
graphically, if not too accurately, described, 
and one young student, fresh from the modern 
college at Yiin-nan Fu, roundly denounced the 
corruption of the local yamen ! Verily the 
old order changeth. 

On the 13th I left Tung-ch'uan Fu and 
marched for twenty miles over fairly level 


ground to the foot of a high range to the 
south. In front of us lay the highest pass 
on the route, and we halted for the night 
with the prospect of a climb to 10,000 feet on 
the morrow. A sharp frost gave a bite to 
the air as we started, but when the sun 
broke through the thick white mist which 
hung over the earth it was pleasant enough. 

Both my chair - bearers and the coolies 
made slow headway up the steep mountain 
track, and in company with a yamen-runner, 
who had been sent to escort me by the 
magistrate at Tung-ch'uan Fu, I was soon far 
ahead. I had travelled, so far, with little 
trouble for some hundreds of miles in inner- 
most China, but at length the monotony of 
my daily and uneventful progress was to be 
rudely interrupted. I was struggling and 
panting in the thin dry air, when the yamen- 
runner, who had dropped behind, came running 
up gesticulating wildly. Here was a predica- 
ment. The man appeared to be rapidly going 
mad in his wild endeavours to make me 
understand something — but what? I stood 
gazing at him in blank astonishment when 

VOL. I. M 


one of my chair - bearers appeared upon the 
scene covered with dust and perspiration. 
Things were beginning to get exciting, and 
it began to dawn upon me from his panto- 
mime that all was not well. Back down the 
hill I reluctantly turned, — not altogether, be 
it admitted, without an uneasy feeling of 
misgiving, — when he seized me by the arm 
and pointed down below. I whipped out my 
glasses, and there, half a mile away, an angry 
crowd of men, among whom I saw my chair 
swaying unsteadily to and fro on the very 
brink of a precipice, were indubitably engaged 
in fierce altercation. Sticks were being plied, 
and stones were flying, and I stood wondering 
what to do when chair -bearer number two 
came struggling up towards us. With a look 
of understanding and a muttered word, both 
men took to their heels and incontinently 
fled. I seized my only remaining companion 
by the arm, and after explaining as forcibly 
as I could by sign and gesture, freely inter- 
mingled with good sound English adjuration, 
that he stood for the material expression of 



law and order, despatched him to deal with 
the mob below, and decided to await even- 
tualities where I was. Exhaustion on the part 
of the men, combined with the sudden appear- 
ance upon the scene of the yamen-runner in 
official uniform, produced a salutary effect, 
and before long my own men, followed by 
the yamen-runner with a number of strangers 
in tow, came slowly and rather shamefacedly 
up the hill. With the arrival a little later 
of Joe, I soon got a general idea of what 
had occurred. On the track a string of 
primitive bullock - carts, consisting of two 
solid wooden wheels upon the axle of which 
a rough wooden framework was super- 
imposed, were slowly wending their way. 
These unwieldy conveyances completely 
blocked the way, and by no means short of 
actual force, it appeared, could their owners 
be made to understand that my party wished 
to pass by. Eesult : force was resorted to, 
my men pushing their way past, and thereby 
upsetting one of the carts, which crashed down 
the precipice into a chasm several hundreds 


of feet below. The next minute a general 
mSlee ensued, the only weapons handy — sticks 
and stones — being made free use of. 

The case was seemingly simple, and was not 
necessarily due to anti- foreign feeling as I 
had at first feared might be the case, and I 
immediately decided to hold an extemporised 
court of justice there and then. Seating my- 
self, with Joe at my side, on a slight eminence, 
I motioned to the contending parties to come 
round. Needless to say, this gathering was 
soon swelled by every fresh traveller upon 
the road, until there was a very respectable 
concourse. As I had not seen the accident 
myself, and both sides vociferously declared 
their innocence, I had to assume that blame 
was evenly distributed. On demanding the 
value of a cart, and being informed by the 
carter that a new one would cost him at least 
a tael and a half — i.e., between 4s. and 5s. — 
I delivered judgment, translated sentence by 
sentence by Joe. 

" I should present the man with Tls. 1J to 
cover the loss which he had sustained. But, 
I could not have my servants beaten and 



maltreated on the highroad, therefore I 
would take the names, places of residence, 
and destination of the offenders. On this 
occasion I would say no more of their con- 
duct ; but as they, like myself, were travelling 
to Yiin-nan Fu, I should have ample oppor- 
tunity of watching their conduct for the 
remainder of the way, and if I noticed the 
slightest attempt at similar misconduct I 
should have the offenders delivered up at 
the first magisterial yam en for condign 
punishment." Having delivered this harangue 
and taken the names of the offenders, I 
handed Tls. 1J to the owner of the lost cart, 
and declared the case dismissed. I con- 
gratulated myself on having successfully 
administered British justice under somewhat 
trying circumstances, and finding the day 
passing, took lunch where I was. What was 
my surprise to find the decision I had come 
to entirely upset by the refusal of the carter 
to accept the money. A dozen times I handed 
it to him, and as many times I received it 
back. All he begged was that I would con- 
sider the case closed. It subsequently trans- 


pired that the man had been advised by his 
friends to accept no compensation for his cart, 
lest afterwards he should be charged with 
robbery at the yamen. Truly an instructive 
sidelight on the methods of the upper classes 
in China ! So my attempt at British justice 
had after all miscarried : they feared the 
foreign devil — et dona ferentem. 

For the rest of the day I toiled over range 
after range of brick -red mountain, relieved 
from complete desolation by scrub and pine- 
woods. The two chair - bearers who had fled 
earlier in the day turned up in the afternoon, 
and just as I was upbraiding them for their 
cowardice, a tremendous holloaing came echoing 
across the elevated plain over which I was 
travelling. Excitement number two ! This 
time, however, the explanation was not a 
disagreeable one. As I looked up to see what 
was the matter, two great wolves came bound- 
ing over the plain not a hundred yards from 
where I stood. In hot pursuit came a dog, 
while just beyond was a shepherd with his 
flock, yelling like mad, in which he was joined 
cheerfully and vociferously by every one in 



sight. The wolves, however, had the legs of 
their pursuer, and were soon out of sight over 
a neighbouring hilltop. We spent the night 
at the village of Lai-tou-p'o. 

Two more days we travelled over endless 
mountains, but on the third emerged on to 
something more nearly approaching to a 
plateau — i.e., a fairly level high land with an 
elevation of something over 6000 feet. Culti- 
vation increased steadily as we approached the 
wide plain in the midst of which the capital 
stands, villages became more frequent, and farm- 
steads were to be seen dotted about in favour- 
able localities. From the village of Yang-kai, 
where we had spent the night of the 17th, 
we left the track, and striking across a well- 
irrigated and well-cultivated plain in a south- 
eastern direction, joined the main road from 
Wei-ning Chou to the capital. From Yang-lin, 
our stage of the 18th, a march of sixteen miles 
over a heath - like country of red soil covered 
with pine and scrub brought me to the village 
of Ta-pan Chiao, whence an easy march of 
twelve miles brought me to the capital on 
the 20th. 


I was at last at the end of my wearisome 
journey over the main road from Ssuch'uan and 
the Upper Yang-tsze to the capital of Yun-nan 
— a journey which had occupied a period of 
twenty -six days, out of which I had actually 
been marching twenty - five, and which had 
taken me over a route which may undoubtedly 
claim the distinction of being the most difficult 
and the most inhospitable of all the routes 
which serve as the main lines of communication 
in this part of China. Until the mineral wealth 
which it possesses is properly and systemati- 
cally developed, this portion of Yun-nan can be 
of no commercial value, nor can I imagine any 
line of country less likely to excite the enthu- 
siasm of the railway engineer. Indeed, such 
lines as have been suggested avoid altogether 
that part of the route over which I travelled 
which lies between Chao-t'ung Fu and Yun-nan 
Fu, a more feasible though still very difficult 
alignment between the two places lying east by 
Chu-tsing, Stian Wei, and Wei-ning Chou. The 
most buoyant report of which I have knowledge 
is that of an Italian engineer, who talks of a 
line of 650 kilometres, with a gradient, except 



in the case of two colls, of only 15 in 1000, 
and at the two mentioned colls of 25 in 1000, 
to be constructed at an estimated cost of 
£10,000 a kilometre. M. Doumer, late Gover- 
nor-General of Indo- China, the vastness of 
whose ambitions was only equalled by the 
magnificent flights of his imagination, declared, 
as the result of a hurried survey by the officers 
of his Public Works Department in 1899, that 
" there were serious reasons for thinking that 
in seeking to attain first of all Sui Fu, in pre- 
ference to Ch'ung-k'ing, his engineers had 
chosen the most convenient route, and, per- 
haps, the only one that was practicable." The 
members of the Yun-nan Company's Commis- 
sion selected the route from Yun-nan Fu vid 
Chu-tsing, Stian Wei, and Wei-ning Chou, 
whence vid Chao-t'ung Fu to Sui Fu, or vid 
Pitsie and Yung-ning to Na-ch'i, though neither 
alternative, it was admitted, could be described 
as anything but difficult. While the rival 
engineers of Europe were thus pondering sor- 
rowfully upon the difficulties of a Yun-nan- 
Ssuch'uan railway, an element of humour was 
introduced by the Chinese, who calmly declared 


that they intended surveying and building the 
line themselves, with which object in view they 
opened an office in 1905. Money was to be 
subscribed by private individuals taking shares, 
by increasing the selling price of Government 
salt, by raising the land - tax, and by the 
institution of lotteries. Strange to say, this 
proposition does not seem to have been taken 
very seriously by any one except the Chinese 
themselves, and in the summer of 1906 an 
Anglo - French Association came into being 
with the object of constructing a series of lines 
— viz., Canton-Hankow, Hankow-Ch'6ngtu, and 
Ch'emgtu-Yun-nan Fu. For myself, I am not 
inclined to envy the shareholders in any future 
Yiin-nan-Ssuch'uan railway. The members of 
the Blackburn Commercial Mission doubted 
whether a railway " that would be able to 
transport goods or minerals at a lower rate 
than the pack - animal could be constructed 
through a country presenting so many ob- 
stacles to the engineer as does this." Even if it 
could, where is it going to find the goods to 
transport? Enthusiasts have pointed trium- 
phantly to the long strings of coolies and pack- 



ponies that they have encountered on the 
road; but how many pack-ponies go to one 
train ? And where the pack-ponies take from 
three weeks to a month, a train would cover the 
distance in from two to three days ; and assum- 
ing that the present system of transport meets 
the demand, what is the train to carry during 
the remainder of the month ? The fact is, that 
such schemes have been put forward on the 
assumption that the products of Ssuch'uan 
would pour along a railway over the whole 
length of Ytin-nan, instead of following, as 
they always have done, the natural line of 
communication provided by the Yang-tsze 
river, — an assumption which appears to me to 
be likely to prove singularly incorrect. But 
with the question of railways as a whole I 
propose to deal in a separate chapter. 




I spent a pleasant ten days in Yun-nan Fu as 
the guest of Mr Wilkinson, H.B.M. Consul- 
General for the two provinces of Yun-nan and 
Kuei-chow. Some day, when the railway from 
Tonking is completed as far as Yun-nan Fu, a 
British consulate is to be built on a pleasant 
site, already carefully marked out by Mr 
Wilkinson outside the city walls : for the 
present the representative of Great Britain 
resides in a modest Chinese house inside the 
city wall. Picturesque temples, hidden away 
in the surrounding mountains, provided an 
object for many a pleasant expedition, in which 
we were joined by the representative of France 
and by M. Barbezieux and his charming family, 
who occupied the position of doctor attached to 


the French consulate. Nor must I omit to 
mention the hospitable members of the China 
Inland Mission. 

Compared with the capital of Ssuch'uan, 
Yim-nan Fu is a poor affair. Poverty is as 
conspicuous a feature of the one as is prosper- 
ity of the other. The walls are solid, and, as 
is not infrequently the case in Chinese cities, 
the most conspicuous feature of the city ; but 
they enclose a space of no very great extent, 
and cannot be more than three miles in circum- 
ference. A few rusty cannon lay strewn about 
on their summit, upon one of which I de- 
ciphered the unlooked-for superscription I.H.S. 
— a relic bearing witness to the mechanical 
genius of some forgotten Jesuit father. 

Outside the city walls stands an imposing 
pagoda, built somewhat prematurely by one 
Ts'en Yu-ying to celebrate prospective victories 
over France ; but more interesting perhaps at 
the present day, and infinitely more surpris- 
ing, is a neatly laid -out station, with railway 
embankments curling away across the plain, — 
a forerunner of the line which France is push- 
ing forward with dogged determination from 


the south. The bulk of the foreign goods that 
reach Yun-nan Fu already come through Indo- 
China vid Lao-kai on the frontier and Meng- 
tzii, though a certain proportion travels vid the 
Yang-tsze and Sui Fu, and in one shop I found 
piece-goods which had come across from Burma 
vid Tali Fu. Very little merchandise, however, 
reaches Yun-nan Fu from Burma at the present 
time. Cheap black Italians and figured last- 
ings were on view, as well as the ordinary grey 
shirting, and were said to have a fair sale. 
Cheap furniture prints were also in stock. But 
it is cotton yarn that provides the chief im- 
portation from abroad, Indian, and latterly 
Tonkingese, yarn being readily purchased and 
woven by the people into a strong coarse cloth 
known as yang-sha-pu. According to the late 
Mr Litton, by whose sudden death while travel- 
ling near T'eng Ylieh in 1895 his country 
sustained a wellnigh irreparable loss, the great 
centre of the local weaving industry is the 
Hsin Hsing valley, three days south of Yiin-nan 
Fu, where 40,000 piculs 1 of yarn are disposed 
of annually. My experience goes to show that 

1 40,000 piculs = 47,61 9 cwt. 



the weaving of foreign yarns into strong, 
loosely-knit cloth by the Chinese is an increas- 
ing industry, and is likely to continue to be so. 
The people have come to realise the advantage 
of buying the cheap machine-made yarns of 
India and Japan ; and so far back as 1897 the 
members of the Blackburn Commercial Mission 
observed a placard on the walls of Yun-nan Fu, 
issued by a benevolent institution, exhorting 
women and girls to learn the art of weaving 
foreign yarn, quoting Confucian scripture to 
prove it was their duty, and, what would 
doubtless be more effective, showing by arith- 
metic that it was a profitable undertaking. So 
long as the mass of the people remain steeped 
in their present poverty, the less durable 
machine-made cloths from the looms of Lanca- 
shire will have little chance of competing with 
the yang-sha-pu. Moreover, the yang-sha- r pu 
is made in widths (14 inches) which entail a 
minimum of waste when cut up for Chinese 
clothes, whereas the broader widths of English 
cloths necessitate no small waste, — a matter 
of vast importance to the frugal and needy 


In company with my host I called upon the 
Viceroy, a genial but pitifully weak ruler of 
the name of Ting. 1 I expressed much interest 
in the opium and railway questions, but his 
Excellency passed by both these questions and 
professed immense interest in the fact that I 
was unmarried, indulging in absorbing specula- 
tions as to the rank and virtues of the lady 
whom he prophesied my parents would select 
for me on my return to my native land. Both 
opium and railways are at present embarrassing 
subjects in the yamens of Western China. 
The former, like the latter, deserves special 
consideration, and will be discussed in a 
separate chapter. 

Quite apart from reform in the matter of 
opium -smoking and railway construction, I 
found reform as indicated by the expression 
" China for the Chinese " pervading the atmo- 
sphere of the capital. France was already 
building a railway from her possessions in 
Indo-China to the very heart of the province ; 
a French railway station stood even now cheek 

1 He has since been succeeded by Hsi Liang, late Viceroy 
of Ssuch'uan. 

Soldiers of Yiin-nan. 



by jowl with the very walls of the capital, a 
perpetual blister upon the temper of young 
Yun-nan ; a French school, established by the 
Governor -General of Indo- China, and at the 
expense of that colony, was teaching some 
eighty Chinese students the language and the 
ways of France ; and now Great Britain was 
scheming to lay hold of some part of Western 
China by constructing railways from Burma 
to Tali Fu. Such things should not be : so 
said the young reforming party, and a board 
came into being with the object of frustrating 
all further encroachments — it was recognised 
that the concession to France could not now 
be altered — under the title at first of " The 
Ylm-nan-Ssuch'uan," and subsequently "The 
Yun-nan- Ssuch'uan-T'eng Yueh Railway Co.," 
pledged to survey and undertake all neces- 
sary railways themselves. English and French 
alike were undoubtedly anathema maranatha 
to the young Yun-nan party. 

Among the people generally the English 
were not disliked, such English travellers as 
have visited the province having almost in- 
variably left a good impression behind them. 

VOL. I. N 


I do not think the same can conscientiously 
be said of the French. Nothing could be 
more tactful or more correct than the attitude 
of the representatives of France whom I found 
at the capital ; but throughout the province 
there was undoubtedly a feeling of distrust 
and suspicion of the ambitions and aspirations 
of that country. Nor can its official repre- 
sentatives claim complete immunity from 
blame. It was M. Francois, French Consul- 
General, — happily Consul-General no longer, — 
who in the summer of 1900 was responsible for 
a serious anti- foreign riot. Contrary to the 
laws of China, M. Francois crossed the frontier 
from Indo-China to Ytin-nan with forty cases 
of arms and ammunition. Hokow, at which 
place was posted a French commissioner of 
Customs, was safely passed, but at Meng-tzu 
the then commissioner passed the Consul- 
General's personal baggage but expressed a 
desire to examine such cases as he was taking 
to Ytin-nan Fu for others. M. Francois blus- 
tered and carried off his goods by force, and 
reached the likin- station at the gates of the 
capital. Here his baggage was detained under 


orders from the Viceroy, who having received 
information to the effect that arms and am- 
munition were being smuggled in, despatched 
two prefects to examine it. The impetuous 
Frenchman drew his revolver upon the Chinese 
officers, thereby grossly affronting two Chinese 
gentlemen engaged upon a perfectly legitimate 
and necessary duty, and incidentally raising a 
wild storm of outraged Chinese humanity about 
the ears of the entire foreign population. 
Thanks to the firm attitude of the Viceroy 
under extremely trying circumstances, no lives 
were lost, and the European population was 
brought safely under a strong escort to the 
frontier. Thus was a serious international 
situation created by the unwarranted procedure 
of an obstinate and impetuous Frenchman. 
Yet M. Francois was reappointed Consul- 
General. a letter of apology wrung from the 
Viceroy, the two prefects deprived of their 
official rank, and a large indemnity extracted ! 
And M. Paul Doumer thinks the French are 
popular in Yun-nan. "The engineers, officers, 
doctors," he declared, " whom Indo-China sent 
to Yun-nan, had for express direction, over 


and above their special task, to attach the 
people to themselves and to make loved the 
name of France. They have fully succeeded," 
he added. 

The whole question of railway construction 
in Yiin-nan has become a long story, involving 
as it does the rival schemes and pretensions of 
England and France, and the new attitude of 
self-assertion on the part of China, and will 
be dealt with at the conclusion of a brief 
account of my journey on from Yiin-nan Fu to 
the Burmese frontier. It will be convenient, 
however, if, before embarking on the narrative 
of the remainder of my journey, I here inter- 
pose a chapter on a question of burning 
interest to Western China — namely, the ques- 
tion of the suppression of the opium traffic. 




The Chinese Government have set their hand 
to a task in comparison with which the whole 
twelve labours of Hercules pale into insignifi- 
cance. To root out in a period of ten years 
the insidious vice of opium - smoking, which 
on their own showing has laid its palsied 
touch upon no less than 40 per cent of a 
population computed at 400,000,000, is an 
undertaking which may well stagger the im- 
agination of even the most visionary of moral 
reformers. Yet this is the modest proposition 
advanced by the issue of a simple edict on 
the 20th of September 1906 :— 

" It is hereby commanded that within a 
period of ten years the evils arising from 


foreign and native opium be equally and 
completely eradicated. Let the Government 
Council frame such measures as may be suit- 
able and necessary for strictly forbidding the 
consumption of the drug and the cultivation 
of the poppy, and let them submit their 
proposals for our approval." 

Most people who have any personal know- 
ledge of China and the opium traffic will be 
disposed to concur with his Majesty's Minister 
at Peking when he declared that the proposi- 
tion set forth in this pithy exhortation con- 
stitutes a reform of a character " rarely at- 
tempted with success in the course of history." 

That, however, is the business of the Chinese 
Government, and the question which Great 
Britain has to consider is not so much the 
magnitude of the task to which China has set 
her hand, as the manner in which she can best 
aid her in her laudable endeavours to eradi- 
cate what is admittedly an immense evil. With 
the introduction of the vicious opium habit 
the British had nothing to do ; but it is not 
denied that British traders did not hesitate 

great Britain's duty. 199 

to supply the demand for the drug which they 
found in China from the prolific poppy-fields 
of India. Opium in India is at the present 
day a Government monopoly, and India sends 
to China 50,000 piculs 1 of opium a-year ; let 
it, then, be asserted as emphatically as it can 
be, that the Government of India is in duty 
bound to take such steps in the regulation of 
her opium traffic as are, in the opinion of com- 
petent authorities, best calculated to have the 
maximum effect in bringing to an end the 
vicious habit among the Chinese people. This 
appears to me to be axiomatic, whether the 
question be looked at from a moral point of 
view, or from the less altruistic point of view 
of the expediency of giving some outward and 
visible sign of our declared policy of cementing 
the ties of friendship between the Governments 
and peoples of the two countries ; and that 
public opinion in Great Britain is alive to 
its responsibilities is clear from the resolution 
passed unanimously by the House of Commons 
on May 30th, 1906, affirming its conviction that 
the Indo-Chinese opium trade is morally inde- 

1 A picul = 133£ lb. 


fensible, and requesting his Majesty's Govern- 
ment to take steps to bring it to a speedy 
close. Having arrived at this conclusion, it 
behoves us to come to a decision as to the 
method of procedure best calculated to assist 
towards the attainment of the desired end — 
namely, the gradual but, if possible, complete 
eradication of the vice from China. In order 
to form a rational opinion upon this point, 
some understanding of the feelings of the 
Chinese upon the question, both in the past 
and at the present time, is essential. 

Opium -smoking was introduced into China 
from Java early in the eighteenth century, 
and has steadily grown in favour among the 
people until at the present day the habit has 
undoubtedly assumed immense proportions. 
In the early days some efforts seem to have 
been made by the central Government to sup- 
press the vice, but of late years no attention 
has been paid to the original edicts penalising 
the habit, nor, until the past two years, have 
any steps been taken by the Government to 
deal with the evil. Indeed, the members of 
the Philippine Commission reported in 1905 


that " certain of the high officials who wrote 
the most eloquent letters condemnatory of the 
opium traffic, and appealing to foreign nations 
to prevent its introduction into China, are 
believed to have steadily increased the areas 
under opium cultivation in their own domains," 
and they also learned that " one provincial 
official who endeavoured to forbid the use of 
opium in his province was removed by the 
Imperial Government." The members of the 
commission spoke with knowledge, but not so 
every one who feels called upon to talk glibly, 
if ignorantly, upon the opium question. Just 
as there are some people who really believe 
that opium, and not insolence, was the cause 
of the so-called " opium war," so there are 
those who appear to be under the impression 
that all that is necessary to bring about the 
abolition of the opium curse in China is to 
place an embargo upon the import into that 
country of the drug from India. " Our sin 
against China could be ended at one stroke 
if Britain would pay the cost," wrote the Kev. 
Eric Lewis in ' The Church Missionary Eeview ' 
for May 1908. That may be, but what I am 


concerned with, and what every one who is 
considering the good of China in the matter 
is concerned with, is the question, Would the 
immediate abolition of the importation of 
Indian opium into China be calculated to ren- 
der easier for the Chinese Government the 
task of stamping out the vice ? In my humble 
opinion it most certainly would not, and for 
this excellent reason, that opium, being a very 
profitable commodity to produce, an immediate 
and largely enhanced demand for the native 
drug created by the sudden cessation of supply 
from India would, despite all laws and regu- 
lations to the contrary, inevitably give an 
immense stimulus to production in the vast 
poppy-fields of China itself. This contention 
is based upon intercourse with officials and 
people in Western China, and upon personal 
observation. Let me invite the attention of 
those interested to the following facts. 

China herself produces, on the admission 
of Tong Shao-yi, the most eager advocate 
of the suppression of the vice, ten times 
as much opium as she imports — i.e., 3000 
tons against 300 tons. When at Ichang I 


was obliged to pick my way among piles 
of cases of Ylin-nan and Ssuch'uan opium 
which had come down from the poppy- 
fields of the west, and it has been estimated 
by Sir Alexander Hosie that the province of 
Ssuch'uan alone " annually produces more than 
double the quantity of Indian opium intro- 
duced into the whole of China." 1 Western 
China is, in fact, a dominating factor in the 
situation, since the two provinces of Ssiich'uan 
and Ylin-nan — it is said that half the arable 
area of the latter is under opium — are the 
largest - producing centres of the drug in 
China, and since its cultivation is the source 
of considerable wealth to their people, and, 
be it added, to their officials also. 

That Indian opium is to all intents and 
purposes unknown in Western China is an 
indisputable fact. " Two decimal four piculs 
of Patna opium," wrote the Commissioner of 
Customs at Ichang in his report for 1906, 

1 The official estimate of the production of the province 
of Ssiich'uan at the present time is given in the paper 
presented to Parliament in February 1908 [Cd. 3881] as 
200,000 piculs, or approximately four times the amount 
of Indian opium imported into the whole of China. 


"a direct import from Hong Kong, is worth 
noting in view of the fact that foreign 
opium has hitherto been "practically unknown 
here. It is understood, however, that the 
result oj the tentative shipment has not 
been encouraging to the importer. 11 Here, 
then, is a vast area grievously addicted to 
the vice which would not be affected in 
the smallest degree by the cessation of the 
importation of the drug from India. What- 
ever may have been the case in the past, 
there is no doubt whatsoever that it is in 
the immense production in China itself that 
is to be found the root of the evil at the 
present time. Nothing short of a drastic 
campaign against the habit by the local 
authorities will have the slightest effect in 
checking the evil here ; but the fact that 
the said local authorities, already heavily 
squeezed by the central Government and 
hard put to it to carry on their duties in 
addition to providing their own emoluments, 
draw large sums from the opium traffic, 
holds out little enough prospect of their 
engaging in a war of extermination against 

In the province of Yiin-nan. 
" It is said that half the arable area of Yun-nan is under opium. 


it. In Ch'&ngtu it was found in 1902 that 
there were no less than 7500 opium dens, 
or one den to every 67 of a population of 
half a million ; and 1000 cash a-month was 
the sum extracted from each den by the 
provincial governing body. " Much of the 
land," we are told by a recent traveller in 
Kan-su, " upon which opium is grown is 
in the hands of magistrates and even higher 
officials," 1 and I have shown in an earlier 
chapter that 50 acres under the poppy 
means an income exceeding by something 
like 780,000 cash the income which would 
be derived by the owner from the same 
area under wheat. Perhaps the most strik- 
ing example of what the cultivation of the 
poppy means to the people in these parts 
is provided by a statement made to me by 
the President of the Piece -Goods Guild in 
Sui Fu. In 1905, I was told, the trade in 
grey shirtings and cotton Italians done 
between Sui Fu and Ytin-nan amounted to 
60,000 tads, whereas, owing to the failure 
of the Yun-nan opium crop in the spring of 

1 ' In the Footsteps of Marco Polo,' by Colonel C. D. Bruce. 


1906, the same trade in that year amounted 
to only 30,000 taels. 1 In parts of Ssuch'uan 
I found the people jubilant at the prospect 
of a campaign against the drug from India. 
But why? Because they were anxious to 
fight and stamp out the evil? Because they 
were yearning to come to the rescue of 
"the desolate homes, the weeping mothers, 
the fathers crying, ' O ! Absalom, my son, 
my son/ the degraded wives, the ragged 
children, the starving households, the fiendish 
men, the wretched women, the poor suffering 
sons and daughters of sorrow " ? 2 Certainly 

1 Cf. Report of the Blackburn Commercial Mission, 
Consul F. S. A. Bourne's section, ch. iv., p. 89 : " The 
Lin-ngan merchants pay for their purchases by consign- 
ments of opium or of tin. . . . Their capacity to purchase 
foreign goods is directly measured by the value of opium 
and tin they can export. A common way of carrying 
out this exchange of products is to send opium over- 
land to Wu-chow for sale, to take payment at Wu-chow 
in bills on Hong Kong to buy Lancashire cottons and 
yarn to be imported here, chiefly via Tongking." 

2 The Rev. H. C. Da Bose. I have no wish to under- 
estimate the evils of opium-smoking, but I am compelled 
to point out that absurdly exaggerated language is fre- 
quently used as to the effects of the habit indulged in in 
moderation. My coolies in Ssuch'uan carried loads of 
133 lb. each, and marched from twenty to thirty miles 


not ; but because they perceived that the 
demand for their own opium would be 
greater — because they, in place of the im- 
porter from abroad, would be enabled to 
administer the drug to " the poor suffering 
sons and daughters of sorrow" to the extent 
of precisely one-tenth more than they were 
doing at the present time. 

The most urgent of all reforms, then, is 
the gradual suppression, with a view to final 
extinction, of the production of the drug in 
China itself. The Chinese are, of course, 
quite alive to this, and have drawn up 
and issued a set of regulations not the 
least important of which is the one deal- 
ing with the home production. In order 
to reduce the area under cultivation, all 
magistrates are charged to investigate and 
make returns of the land under the poppy 
in their districts. No new land may, under 
penalty, be sown with the poppy, while 
certificates are to be issued for all land 

a-day. Every one of them smoked opium daily, but I 
could detect no signs of " undermined constitutions and 
impaired health." 


given up to its cultivation, and the pro- 
prietor to be compelled to reduce the area 
by one -ninth every year and to substitute 
other crops. Confiscation of land by the 
State to be the penalty for non-compliance. 

Drastic regulations are laid down for deal- 
ing with the smokers. All officials, gentry, 
and literati are to be compelled to give up 
the habit, to act as an example. Officials 
of over sixty years of age, however, are to be 
treated leniently. Officials of high rank and 
title to ask for a given time in which to 
break the habit, and to be relieved by an 
acting official during that period. Officials 
of lower rank to be allowed six months. 
Teachers, scholars, officers, and warrant officers 
in the army and navy, if addicted to the 
vice, to be dismissed within three months. 
For the general public the following regu- 
lations have been drawn up. A smoker 
must report himself at the nearest yamen 
and there fill in a form giving his name, 
age, address, occupation, and daily allow- 
ance of opium. He will then be given a 
licence, and if under sixty years of age a 


limit will be placed upon the amount he is 
allowed to consume, to be reduced yearly 
by from 20 per cent to 30 per cent. On 
becoming a total abstainer he must produce 
a guarantee signed by a relative or neigh- 
bour, when his licence will be cancelled. 
No new licences will be issued after the 
first inquisition, and severe penalties will 
be inflicted upon any one smoking without 
a licence. 

Strong measures are to be taken to limit 
the facilities for indulging in the habit. 
Eating - houses are to be prohibited from 
furnishing opium, and customers from bring- 
ing smoking apparatus with them into such 
places. In the space of one year all shops 
for the sale of smokiDg accessories are to 
close, and six months is the limit placed 
upon the lives of all opium dens. Shops 
for the sale of the drug are to be provided 
with licences, and returns of the amount 
sold to be made annually to the magistrate 
of the district. All shops still in existence 
at the expiration of ten years to be sum- 
marily closed. Further, anti-opium societies 

vol. i. o 


are to be established, though it is pointed 
out that such societies are to confine their 
activities strictly to the reduction of opium, 
and not to indulge in the discussion of 
current politics or questions of local govern- 
ment ; and finally, the local authorities are 
exhorted to take the lead in the great 
crusade. representations are then to be 
made to the British Government inviting 
them to effect an annual reduction in the 
importation of Indian opium 'pari passu 
with the decrease of native opium. Truly 
an admirable and a comprehensive programme. 
Let us see what steps have so far been 
taken to carry it out. 

Much has undoubtedly been done. During 
the year 1907 — the year following the issue 
of the first opium edict — thousands of opium 
dens have been closed, piles of opium-pipes 
have been burned amid much popular rejoicing 
and enthusiasm, princes and other high digni- 
taries who have failed to break off the habit 
within the prescribed time have been removed 
from office. The working of the regulations 
has been tested by practice and some necessary 


modifications introduced. Men in high places 
have unfortunately died, owing to their being 
suddenly deprived of the drug, and " these 
sad results of virtue have caused the string- 
ency of the regulations to be relaxed, and those 
past fifty instead of sixty years of age are now 
to be allowed to continue smoking." 1 

On the whole, more has, perhaps, been 
achieved than was to be expected. The 
other side of the picture, however, cannot be 
ignored. There is only too much evidence of 
the strength of the forces — some of which I 
have enumerated — which are acting, and must 
continue to act, as a drag upon the wheels of 
the Chinese chariot of reform. In the month 
of April (1907), for instance, "the consolidated 
Opium Tax Bureau, which is unquestionably 
an official institution, issued a proclamation 
urging the cultivation of the poppy for the 
sake of revenue," 2 — a grave lapse from the 
high moral standard set by the emperor, Tao 
Kwang, who declared, in answer to the sug- 
gested advantages of legalising the opium 
traffic, that " Nothing would induce him to 

1 Parliamentary Paper, China, No. 1, 1908. 2 Ibid. 


derive a revenue from the vice and misery 
of his people." In other districts subterfuge 
has been resorted to. Thus, in Wuhu we 
are told that all the dens were closed at the 
beginning of August in order that a report 
might be made to that effect, but by the 
beginning of September they were all open 
again. 1 In the town of Lofan, in Kwang-tung, 
it is stated that licences have been freely issued 
practically certifying that the entire smoking 
population is over sixty years of age, and 
therefore entitled, under the edict, to clem- 
ency. 2 Again, an eyewitness from Ho -nan 
states that, in order to comply with the terms 
of the edict, and at the same time to temper 
the wind of reform to the farmer, the area 
under cultivation has been reported at 25 to 
30 per cent above the actual figure, so that 
the stipulated reduction of 10 per cent per 
annum will leave things as they are for some 
time to come. 3 Eeports as to what is being 
done to enforce Article I. of the Imperial 
Regulations, the object of which is to secure 

1 Parliamentary Paper, China, No. 1, 1908. 

2 ' Times,' April 4th, 1908. 3 Ibid. 


the " restriction of the cultivation of the poppy 
in order to remove the root of the evil," are 
not altogether reassuring. In Kan-su, we are 
told, " more poppy is grown than ever, and in 
one district an official urged the people to plant 
for all they were worth ; ... in consequence, 
five times as much was sown " ; 1 and in Mon- 
golia more land is said to have been given 
over to poppy cultivation, while a general sum- 
mary upon this aspect of the question reads 
as follows : " Although in isolated instances in 
other provinces [i.e., apart from Ssuch'uan] 
the cultivation of the poppy has been reduced, 
yet it may be safely said that in general no 
attention has been paid to this article through- 
out the empire, nor have the penalties for 
non - compliance with its provisions been 
imposed." 2 

If, then, Great Britain desires to assist 
China in the most practical manner, she must 
take care that nothing she does shall in any 
way encourage the poppy-growers, and others 
pecuniarily interested in poppy cultivation in 
China, in the idea that the abolition of the 

1 Parliamentary Paper, China, No. 1, 1908. 2 Ibid. 


opium trade between India and China is to 
provide them with an opportunity of satisfy- 
ing the demands of an increased home market. 
The British Government have adopted the 
policy best calculated to meet the case. They 
have undertaken to limit the quantity of 
opium exported from India to countries beyond 
the seas to 61,900 chests in 1908, 56,800 chests 
in 1909, and 51,700 chests in 1910. If at the 
conclusion of the three years they are satisfied 
that adequate measures have been taken to 
reduce the production of the drug in China 
in accordance with the provisions of the Im- 
perial Edict, they agree to continue the 
reduction at the same rate until, at the end 
of ten years, the export from India will have 
been brought to an end. This does not, of 
course, satisfy the faddists who think that 
" such a gradual morality scale as this " is 
grievously humiliating to every right-minded 
man. 1 Practical reform, however, never has 
been, and never will be, brought about on lines 
advocated by the extremists, and the Govern- 
ment may rest assured that the common-sense 

1 ' National Righteousness,' January 1908. 


of those intimately acquainted with the con- 
ditions in China is a more reliable guide, in 
matters of practical politics, than the soaring 
idealism which is generated in the editor's 
office of 'National Kighteousness.' The Chinese 
emperor has declared his satisfaction at the 
action taken by the British Government in an 
edict issued on March 24th, 1908 : " The British 
Government have now agreed to effect an 
annual reduction in the amount of opium 
exported to China. This enlightened policy 
on their part has greatly impressed us." And 
after a reference to the details of the agree- 
ment, the edict concludes : " To allow these 
three years to slip by without taking measures 
for the abolition of the drug would be a poor 
return for the benevolent policy of a friendly 
Power, and a deep disappointment to philan- 
thropists of all nations." 

There is another danger besides that of an 
increased production of opium in China itself, 
which has to be carefully guarded against pari 
"passu with the reduction of the supply of the 
drug — the danger of abolishing one vice only 
to make room for a worse. It is well known 


in the East that where opium - smoking is 
suppressed, the use of morphia or of some 
equally deleterious drug is almost certain to 
take its place, unless the most stringent pre- 
cautions are adopted to prevent it. This 
danger appears to be imminent in China at the 
present moment. " Since the closing of the 
dens," says Dr Main of the Church Missionary 
Hospital at Hanchow, " anti-opium pills, con- 
taining morphia or opium in some form, have 
been freely distributed by the gentry, and 
shops for the sale of these anti- opium pills 
are opened everywhere and doing a roaring 
trade. . . . Some have been cured, but 
most of those who frequented the opium dens 
have simply replaced the pipe by morphia 
pills, and the last state is worse than the 
first." 1 Precautions were taken some time 
ago in the shape of a greatly enhanced duty 
upon morphia coming into China; but the 
smuggling of the drug appears to go on un- 
checked. Thus 'The Times' correspondent at 
Peking wired on June 25th of this year that 

1 Quoted by the Shanghai correspondent of ' The Times ' in 
a letter to that paper of July 3rd, 1908. 


" Chinese Customs statistics recently issued 
show that last year (1907) the morphia on 
which duty was paid to the Customs amounted 
to 96 oz. only, yet there is no reason to doubt 
that the amount imported was nearer 10 
tons " ; and he went on to say that orders 
for 1000 lb. weight have been given in a 
single transaction, the morphia being packed 
in 7 lb., 14 lb., 21 lb., and 28 lb. tins, four in 
a case. Again, in a telegram dated Peking, 
August 21st, 1908, the same informant declares 
that "a formidable difficulty is the immense 
importation of morphia and hypodermic ap- 
pliances," and summarises an Imperial Edict, 
dated July 16th, decreeing that Chinese who 
manufacture morphia or hypodermic appliances, 
or shopkeepers who sell morphia without a 
Customs permit, shall be banished to "a 
pestilential frontier of the Empire." These 
things should at least give pause to the 
enthusiastic sentimentalist, and should warn 
him that sentiment without sense is a danger- 
ous weapon, which may not unlikely inflict 
serious injury upon those on whose behalf it 
is ostensibly wielded. 


So much for the "opium question" as it 
stands at the present time. It may be con- 
venient if, in conclusion, I briefly sum up the 
position. The chief factors in the situation 
to be borne in mind are these. China pro- 
duces ten times as much opium as she imports. 
She derives a revenue of between £6,000,000 
and £7,000,000 from home-grown opium, and 
of £830,000 from the foreign importation. 
The value of the opium crop to its cultivators 
is considerably greater than that of an equal 
crop of cereals. A large proportion of the 
officials are not only opium - smokers them- 
selves, but are pecuniarily interested in its 
production. From 30 to 40 per cent of the 
population are estimated by the Chinese Govern- 
ment to be addicted at the present day to a 
habit which first found its way into the 
country two hundred years ago. With a 
view to eradicating the vice, a succession of 
Imperial Edicts has been issued and a set 
of sweeping regulations has been drawn up, 
while the Government of Great Britain has 
agreed to limit the export of opium from 
India pari passu with the reduction of the 


Chinese crop. The reader who has realised 
the magnitude of the task will naturally ask, 
What are the prospects of success ? He is a 
rash man who ventures to dogmatise on 
matters concerning China. But the traveller 
in Western China who has passed through its 
miles of poppy - fields, who has studied the 
expression on the faces of its magistrates and 
weighed their words when discoursing upon 
the subject, will pay tribute to every word of 
Sir Edward Grey's considered expression of 
opinion when he said in the House of Com- 
mons on May 6th, 1908, that "to attempt to 
put an end to a national habit in ten years 
was an effort which any European Government 
would have been unwilling to face." 

That there are enlightened men in China 
who are earnestly desirous of suppressing the 
evil, is in no way open to doubt. One of 
the leading merchants in Ch'ung-k'ing was 
actively denouncing the habit at the time of 
my visit ; and it was reported that at Fu-chou, 
the centre of the opium cultivation in Ssuch'uan, 
a landowner had given out that no more poppy- 
seed was to be sown on his land. A little later 


Mr Joseph G. Alexander, who was travelling 
in Ssxich'uan prior to attending the centenary 
conference of Protestant missions at Shanghai, 
found the local anti - opium committee at 
Ch'ung-k'ing militant and determined. "Would 
their officials," he asked them, " being so cor- 
rupt as they had been telling him, and 
interested in the traffic, carry out the Imperial 
decree ? " A merchant stood up to answer for 
the rest. "Tell your people in England," he 
said, " that whether the officials want to carry 
out the decree or not, we shall make them do 
so." These are gratifying examples of a 
growing and salutary public opinion ; but 
despite such welcome symptoms, to imagine 
that an insidious national vice can be out- 
rooted from the character of a people by a 
mere stroke of the vermilion pencil, is to 
postulate for human nature a standard of 
virtue which everyday experience goes to 
show that it does not possess. 




I passed out of the north gate of Yiin-nan 
Fu on January 29th, and after travelling for 
an hour or two over the plain, crossed the 
encircling range of mountains by the Pichi 
Kuan or Jade Fowl pass, west of the city. 
The road then took us over undulating country, 
partially cultivaled, to An-ning Chou, where 
I spent the night, and on the next day 
through heath-like country of a hilly nature 
to Lao-ya-kuan. 

I suppose the road, which, be it remembered, 
is the main line of communication across the 
province from the capital to the frontier of 
the empire, is the most execrable example of 
a highway which it is possible for the mind 
of man, with its necessary limitations, to con- 


ceive. As a hindrance to traffic it can indeed 
lay claim to considerable distinction, but this, 
outside China, would scarcely be voted a 
desirable recommendation for a road, and as 
a highway qua highway, it can only be 
described as a dismal and sorrowful failure. 
I invariably left it when possible, and took 
a line across the adjoining hills and fields, 
— a procedure which I noticed was frequently 
adopted by the caravans of the country 
themselves. The muleteer is, indeed, as an 
individual, by no means devoid of humour. 
" Good for ten years, and bad for ten thou- 
sand," he says, as he stoically contemplates 
the highway which a thoughtful and paternal 
Government provides for him. That he hap- 
pens to live during the period of ten thousand 
years, and not during the happier epoch of 
ten years, is neither his own fault nor the 
fault of his Government, but the accident of 
fate, and a thing, therefore, to be borne, — 
cheerfully it may be, but in any case to be 
borne. That is destiny, and no good Easterner 
is so foolish as to dream of questioning the 
decrees of destiny. 


The strip of land, of crude and wholly 
unconsidered gradients, which was apportioned 
for the purposes of communication in this 
particular district, had the appearance of hav- 
ing been powdered with shapeless boulders from 
some gigantic sugar -sifter. Large portions 
of it were under water, and the whole of it 
under slippery mud — this, too, at the driest 
season of the year. A glance at the accom- 
panying photograph will perhaps assist the 
reader to an understanding of the real sig- 
nificance of the expression " Chinese road." 
I had heard "young China" declaring from 
the housetops its ability and its determination 
to cover the country with a network of 
railways, and now I was travelling over 
young China's conception of a main road, 
and I was amused — but not surprised. I 
had a short time before come into contact 
with a college of the modern type, where 
the mathematical course began with algebra, 
regardless of the fact that, as far as the 
pupils were concerned, simple arithmetic was 
a thing unknown. Why should a Chinese 
who aspired to solve abstruse mathematical 


problems concern himself with such mathe- 
matical puerilities as the silly rule which 
says that 2 + 2 are to make 4 ? Why, like- 
wise, should a Yun-nan student who aspires 
to construct mountain railways of a highly 
complicated kind bother his head about such 
elements of road-making as levels, gradients, 
and curves ? Why indeed — so long as it is 
only Celestials who are constrained to travel 
over them, and the goods of Sinim that 
they are fated to convey ? 

Eighty li of the switchback order took us 
to Lu - feng Hsien on the evening of the 
31st. The mountain-sides all round showed 
signs of former forest. Whole areas of pine- 
trees, however, have been ruthlessly cut down, 
and nothing but the stumps remain. These 
sprout and assume the appearance of small 
bushes, adding a somewhat curious feature 
to the landscape. That some improvement 
has taken place in the condition of the country 
since the close of the devastating Mohammedan 
rebellion in 1873 is attested by the presence 
of well - cultivated basins, which are to be 
seen from the road among the hills. My 


only note as to the condition of the road 
itself between Lao-ya Kuan and Lu-feng 
Hsien is — "track abominable." Margary, in 
his diary of his famous journey from Shanghai 
to Burma, describes it as outdoing everything 
he had so far encountered in utter badness. 
"It is far from being an easy task," he wrote, 
"to describe the incredible obstacles which 
are suffered to remain unheeded on this 
track." Perhaps there was truth in his 
surmise that the retreating Mohammedans 
"purposely destroyed the pavement in order 
to throw difficulties in the way of the Imperial 
troops." This, however, was thirty-five years 
ago, and the obstacles are still there. 

She-tzu, a village situated in a well- 
cultivated plain surrounded by hills, was 
our halting -place for the night of February 
1st. We had travelled as usual across moun- 
tain-ranges all day, the only habitations visible 
consisting of small collections of mud houses 
that could hardly be dignified by the name 
of village. We halted at Kuang-t'ung Hsien 
on the 2nd, and at Ch'u-hsiung Fu on the 

3rd. The latter is a small town with a 
vol. i. p 



small garrison and a few moderate shops, in 
which I was unable to find anything of foreign 
manufacture. The military officer, a man of 
inferior rank, called to pay his respects, and 
provided me with a fresh escort of four 
soldiers, those who had accompanied me from 
the capital returning to their homes the 
happy possessors of 1200 cash (about 3s.) 

For the next two days we passed through 
a less impossible country. Well - cultivated 
valleys, with fields of rape, wheat, and poppy, 
were intersected by pine -clad ridges of no 
very great height, our stages being the villages 
of Lti-ho and Sha-chiao on the nights of the 
4th and 5th respectively. During the 6th 
and 7th we were again marching over inter- 
minable mountains, spending the night of 
the 6th at the poverty - stricken village of 
Pu P'eng, and dropping on the afternoon 
of the 7th to a large level plain over 
7000 feet above sea-level, well cultivated and 
dotted with villages, at one of which, Yun- 
nan-yi, we spent the night. 

Immediately after leaving Yiin-nan-yi on the 



8th, we passed through some low hills and 
emerged on another large plain in which stands 
the town of Yiin-nan Hsien. Leaving the town 
a mile or two to the north, we climbed a 
mountain -range, where our path lay among 
masses of wild rose in bloom, and descended 
on the far side to the northern end of the 
Mitu plain, halting at the village of Hunghai. 
To the south the plain stretched away to 
the horizon, and it is up this tract of level 
land that the Yiin-nan Company's Commission 
decided on bringing their line from the 
Kung-long Ferry, carrying it over the range 
a little south of where we crossed it, to 
Yiin-nan Hsien, and so on to the capital, fol- 
lowing the direction of the road along which 
we had travelled, but turning instead of 
crossing the ranges, which cut the existing 
route at right angles. A branch, it was pro- 
posed, should follow the caravan route from 
Hunghai to Tali Fu, and possibly on past 
that city to Shang-kuan, the northern pass 
out of the valley in which Tali Fu is situated. 
Between Tali Fu and Yiin-nan Fu the line 
would pass along what may be described as 


the backbone of Yiin-nan, a strip of elevated 
country draining to the Yang-tsze on the 
north and to the Eed river basin on the 

Of the three lines talked of, but not yet 
begun — i.e., the Bhamo-Tali Fu line, the Tali 
Fu-Yiin-nan Fu line, and the Yiin-nan- 
Ssuch'uan railway — the Tali Fu-Yiin-nan Fu 
line would undoubtedly prove the easiest to 
construct, and would, under existing con- 
ditions, tap an area rather less populous and 
productive, perhaps, than the Bhamo-Tali Fu 
line, but undoubtedly more populous and 
productive than the Yiin-nan- Ssuch'uan line. 
The scientific and systematic development of 
the mineral wealth of the country might very 
considerably modify existing conditions and 
enhance the value of the Yiin-nan-Ssuch'uan 
line, copper, lead, zinc, iron, and coal exist- 
ing in considerable quantities in the vicinity 
of Tung-ch'uan. Mining enterprise in this 
part of China, however, is pushed forward 
with an extreme caution and deliberation; 
and it was only while I myself was in Yiin- 


nan Fu in January 1907, that an Englishman 
and a Frenchman were said to be on their 
way with a view to making some personal 
investigation into the possibilities of a con- 
cession to work minerals in seven named 
districts granted to an Anglo-French combina- 
tion, designated the Yiin-nan Syndicate, in 
June 1902. Even in the matter of minerals 
it is neither the Bhamo-Tali Fu, nor the Tali 
Fu-Yiin-nan Fu, nor the Yiin-nan-Ssuch'uan 
lines that possess the brightest prospects, 
but the French Eed river line from the 
Yiin-nanese capital to the sea, since it is in 
the neighbourhood of this line that lie the 
rich mines of Kuo-chiu-ch'ang, the greatest 
tin-producing district in China. 

It may be added that the visit of the 
engineers in question, on behalf of the Yiin- 
nan Syndicate, has already produced a sequel 
from which it can only be deduced that, as 
a result of the "China for the Chinese" 
propaganda, the scientific development of the 
mineral resources of Yiin-nan are to be still 
further postponed. The episode is described 


by a correspondent of 'The Times' in an article 
upon " Foreign Capital in China " in that 
paper's " Financial and Commercial Supple- 
ment" of July 24th, 1908. I append the 
following extract : — 

"In 1906 it was decided to make a beginning of 
independent working, and the company's engineer 
was therefore directed to inspect certain properties 
in the Lin-an Fu district; the necessary intimation 
was conveyed to the local officials, and a military 
escort was provided by the Sub-Prefect of Meng-tzu. 
In the course of his work the engineer had occasion 
to inspect the private property of a native named 
Ming Li-sung, but no sooner had the inspection taken 
place, and before the return of the engineer to Meng- 
tzu, than Ming Li-sung (aged 70) and his son were 
arrested and imprisoned on the charge of having 
attempted to sell their land to foreigners. A pro- 
clamation was issued in reference to the case on 
December 31, 1907, by Wei, Taotai of Meng-tzu. 
This document is interesting in that it commences 
by referring to the Yun-nan Company's agreement 
as an entirely satisfactory one ; subsequently, how- 
ever, the writer refers to the recently promulgated 
Mining Regulations, gravely asserting that there- 
under a permit from the local yamen is necessary 
for all prospecting operations. Finally, he accuses 



Ming Li-sung (before trial) of having tried to sell 
his land secretly, and insists on the Government's 
rights of ownership in the subsoil and the necessity 
for official sanction for all mining work. 

"Ming Li -sung was subsequently tried, and the 
magistrate's decision given that he had only been 
associated with the foreigner in prospecting operations 
and had not attempted to sell his land. Nevertheless, 
his property was taken from him, and ordered to be 
included henceforward in the joint-stock lands of the 
Ming clan, on the condition that the latter should 
'never arrange to sell or lease it to foreigners.' 
In the conclusion of the judgment it is recorded that 
' Ming Li-sung and his son acted unlawfully in intro- 
ducing a foreigner to investigate and measure this 
mining property.' Intimations of this kind from 
the local yamen are not lost upon the people, and 
the result in this case is equivalent to complete 
repudiation of the rights conferred upon the Yiin-nan 
Syndicate — repudiation deliberate and unjustified by 
any real or imaginary grievance. And, as showing 
that the central and provincial Governments are at 
one in this suicidal policy, it should be added that 
the French Legation's formal protest to the Waiwu- 
pu against the action of Wei Taotai was met by his 
removal upon substantial promotion. 

" An idea of the favourable nature of the agreement 
which is thus nullified may be inferred from the 


fact that, in addition to binding itself to supply a 
million pounds of copper annually to the central 
Government at a fixed low rate, and to meet the 
requirements of the provinces at local market rates, 
the company undertook to pay 35 per cent of its 
net profits on paying properties in royalties (making 
good all losses on other mines from its own funds), 
and to pay a pit-mouth tax of 5 per cent on all 

The Mining Eegulations referred to by 
Taotai Wei were those issued by the Chinese 
Government in 1907, and were of such a 
character as to practically prohibit the em- 
ployment of modern methods and of foreign 
cajDital in the development of the mineral 
wealth of China. They were denounced by 
the Legations as a breach of treaty engage- 
ments ; but the case of the Yiin-nan Syndicate 
is only one of many that might be cited as 
examples of the avidity with which provincial 
officials have grasped hold of any cover, behind 
which they might shelter their arbitrary and 
exclusive procedure where foreigners are con- 

During the night the usual hubbub of a 
Chinese inn was accentuated by the late arrival 



of a caravan of twenty mules, bound from 
Tali Fu with a consignment of opium for 
the capital. 

North-west of Hunghai the road ascends 
a range of mountains, and passing through 
a gap at no very great altitude, drops by a 
gradual descent to another plain, in which 
stands the town of Ch'ao-chou. A heavy crop 
of beans stood in the valley, and poppy was 
also growing in large quantities. From here 
a walk of thirty li over level ground brought 
us on the morning of February 10th to Hsia- 
kuan, a distributing centre of considerable 
importance occupying a fine strategic position 
at the mouth of the rich valley of Tali Fu. 
Few retail shops are to be seen, but large 
warehouses and offices tell of its commercial 
importance. The Hsia-kuan river, which drains 
the vast lake running south and north along 
the Tali valley, flows languidly through the 
town prior to entering a gorge a mile or so 
to the west, down which it rushes with all 
the force and fury of a mountain torrent. 
Crossing it by a fine stone bridge, we ascended 
the long, steep, stone-paved street which leads 


through the town to the slopes which lie 
between a wall of snow - capped mountains 
rising in peaks to 13,000 feet on the west, 
and the deep blue waters of the lake on 
the east, and eight miles farther on passed 
through the imposing southern gateway of 
Tali Fu, the western capital. 




Tali Fu has passed through stirring times. 
It became the stronghold of the Moham- 
medan faction during the great rebellion 
which scourged the province from 1855 to 
1873. The last town to hold out against 
the Imperial forces, it succumbed finally to 
treachery, being betrayed by the chief Minister 
of the Mohammedan commander within its 

The so-called " Panthay " rebellion began 
in a riot at a copper mine, and ended in the 
devastation of a province. The hand of God, 
indeed, lay heavy upon this corner of the 
dominions of the " Son of Heaven," for as 
though seventeen years of relentless civil 


warfare were not enough, plague and pesti- 
lence lit upon the scene, and added remorse- 
lessly to the havoc already wrought by the 
hand of man. 

The story of the Mohammedan rising is 
briefly this. The mandarins in charge of the 
work at the mines, absorbed after the manner 
of their kind in the fascinating pastime of 
lining their own pockets, took no thought 
for the men slaving under them, but rather 
assumed the attitude of Pharaoh towards the 
Israelites when he said unto them, "Ye are 
idle, ye are idle; go ye, get you straw where 
ye can find it ; yet not ought of your work 
shall be diminished." The Chinese are the 
most easily governed people in the world, yet 
there comes a time when even a Chinaman 
rebels, and, goaded beyond endurance under 
the rod of the taskmaster, they rose. The 
miners were chiefly Mohammedans, or Hui- 
lmi as they were termed in the country 
itself, and they were soon joined by their co- 
religionists throughout the province, already 
exasperated by the partiality of the magis- 
trates, who had been displaying their zeal for 


orthodoxy by deciding a series of quarrels 
between the pork-sellers and the Mohammedan 
butchers in favour of the former. This was 
in 1855. 

So quickly did the flame of rebellion spread 
that the capital was soon threatened, and the 
Viceroy in alarm patched up a temporary 
peace. Peace, however, was not to be of 
long duration. Changsun, the Governor of 
Ho Ch'ing, in co-operation with the mandarin 
of Li - chiang and another Chinese official, 
following the usual Chinese precedent, organ- 
ised a general massacre of the Mohammedans 
for a fixed day. The plan may be said to 
have met with only partial success, for while 
several hundreds were satisfactorily disposed 
of, the Mohammedan population as a whole, 
instead of being cowed into submission, now 
stood by for war. The Imperial forces were 
defeated at Tali in 1857, while the Moham- 
medans at Hailung in the south, after holding 
on till provisions gave out, cut their way 
through to their comrades at Kuang-si, which 
became thenceforward a centre of revolution. 
The Imperialists soon learned that they had 


a formidable organisation to deal with. Ma 
Te Sing, a learned man who had visited 
Mecca and Constantinople, became Dictator 
with full powers, and two generals, Ma Hsiu 
and To Wen Hsiu, took command of the 
southern and western troops respectively. The 
successes which they met with aroused no 
small measure of alarm in the breasts of 
those entrusted with the governance of the 
province, and when, in November 1860, the 
capital fell before the victorious soldiers of 
Ma Hsiu, it was realised that something 
definite must be done. The favourite method 
— ruthless repression by means of massacre and 
torture — had failed ; there was only one alter- 
native conceivable to the Chinese mind — 
purchase. Ma Hsiu, the captor of Yun-nan 
Fu, and Ma Te Sing, the Mohammedan 
Dictator, were approached, and a satisfactory 
bargain was struck, the former being granted 
the rank of Chen-t'ai (general of brigade) in 
the Imperial army, and the latter a pension 
of 200 taels a-month. With the conclusion 
of this deal, reports of great victories to the 
Imperial army were despatched to Peking, 


and all concerned congratulated themselves 
on having honourably extricated themselves 
from an extremely unpleasant situation. 

The insurrection, however, was far from 
being quelled, and fierce risings continued to 
take place — Ma Hsiu, who now took the 
name of Ma Ju Lung, becoming the champion 
of the Imperial forces. 

A diversion was also caused about this 
time among the Imperial forces themselves 
by Ma Te Sing, who considered the time 
favourable to the prosecution of his personal 
ambitions, upsetting the Government and pro- 
claiming himself Viceroy. He was speedily 
deposed, and order again restored within the 
ranks of the Imperialist party by his old 
colleague, Ma Ju Lung ; but these happen- 
ings were' little calculated to bring the real 
rebellion to a conclusion. With dissension 
in the ranks of his opponents, success con- 
tinued to attend the armies of To Wen Hsiu, 
who now directed the affairs of the Moham- 
medan faction — so much so that the members 
of the British mission under Major Sladen, 
who had penetrated to Momein (T'eng Yueh) 


early in 1868, were induced to believe that 
an independent Mohammedan kingdom was 
in all truth about to be set up, including 
in its embrace Ylin-nan, and even parts of 
Ssuch'uan. " It seemed," wrote Dr Anderson, 
the chronicler of the mission, "at this period 
almost certain that Yiin - nan would become 
an independent kingdom, if indeed Ssuch'uan 
and the northern provinces were not also 
formed into a great Mohammedan empire." 

We now know that the power of the Mo- 
hammedans was more apparent than real, for 
we have seen how it crumbled and gave way 
when once a determined attack was made 
upon it. There is little doubt that the visit 
of the British mission and its friendly inter- 
course with the Mohammedan leaders was the 
spur required to rouse the energy of the 
somnolent Chinese authorities. The prospect 
of assistance being given by Great Britain 
to the insurgents " so alarmed the Chinese 
Government as to lead them to make a 
supreme effort to stamp out the rebellion. 
Certain it is that such effort was successfully 
made ; and it dates from the arrival of Major 


Slaclen's party at Momein and the subsequent 
despatch of the Sultans son, Hassan, to 
Europe on a mission to the British Govern- 
ment seeking help." 1 

The turn of the tide came, bringing with 
it the sword of the avenger. Treachery, 
atrocity, and outrage accompanied the forces 
commissioned to restore law and order : vast 
numbers of Mussulmans, who surrendered on 
promise of their lives, were ruthlessly slaught- 
ered. The innate brutality of the yellow race 
was stirred to its muddiest depths, passion 
in its most hideous guise held high carnival. 
In 1872 Hsia-kuan, the key to the Tali plain, 
was betrayed by its commander, Tung Fei 
Lung. Kuang-si was next taken by treachery, 
and the two chiefs, Ta T'ou Wu and Ma Min 
Kuang, who agreed to capitulate, were treacher- 
ously seized and bound, rolled on a floor 
carefully prepared with nails an inch long, 
and beheaded, their heads being sent to 
Lin-an to be exposed. In the following year 
Tali Fu was betrayed by To Wen Hsiu's chief 
Minister. To Wen Hsiu himself, when taken 

1 Sir Rutherford Alcock, K.C.B. 
VOL. I. Q 


into the presence of the Imperialist com- 
mander, gave vent to what proved to be a 
dying prayer — "I have nothing to ask but 
this : spare the people." He had previously 
taken the precaution of swallowing poison, 
from which he shortly afterwards expired. 
The Chinese authorities had no idea of being 
deterred from such an opportunity of setting 
an example by any dying supplication, even 
if it was, as Baber points out, "the most im- 
pressive and pathetic ever uttered by a dying 
patriot," and they proceeded to ensure the 
example being a thorough one. The chief 
officials of the city were invited to a banquet, 
and were assassinated one by one as they 
passed into the banqueting hall. For the rest, 
the district was given over to three days 
massacre, during which thousands are said to 
have perished. " The streets ran ankle-deep 
in blood," says Dr Morrison ; " of 50,000 in- 
habitants, 30,000 were butchered. After the 
massacre twenty-four panniers of human ears 
were sent to Yiin-nan city to convince the 
people of the capital that they had nothing 
more to fear from the rebellion." 



On the other hand, when Baber visited 
Tali in 1877, only four years after the fall 
of the city, he was told by the captain of 
his escort, who claimed to have been a par- 
ticipator in the events, that " he did not 
think there could have been more than 500 
corpses, or the water would have stunk more." 1 
Thus ended the rebellion which had scourged 
the province for a period of seventeen years, 
dislocated its industries and commerce, and 
reduced its population from 16,000,000 to 

The town, like the whole country, still 
bears traces of these days of strife. The 
south gateway is imposing, and the main street 
which runs from it the whole length of the 
town to the north gate is one continuous jostle 
— pigs, poultry, clogs, and people vieing with 
one another to block the way ; but for the rest, 
large spaces within the city walls are unbuilt 
on, and wear a depressing and poverty-stricken 
aspect. My arrival coincided with that of the 
New Year, and not only was I constrained to 
halt for three days in order that my coolies 

1 Notes on the route of Mr Grosvenor's Mission. 


might take their fill of pork in celebration of 
the festive season, but also to dispense hand- 
fuls of cash all round to better enable them 
to do so. New Year's eve, February 12th, was 
rendered odious to myself by reason of the 
incessant beating of gongs and the letting off 
of countless thousands of crackers, which lasted 
far into the night, and indeed into the dawn 
of the New Year — a form of amusement which 
appears to give inordinate pleasure to the 
Chinese. This carouse had an extraordinary 
effect upon the town the following day : every 
one was sleeping, every door was closed, and 
the street, which at all other times hummed 
with the clatter of many hundreds of wagging 
tongues, and was so inconveniently crowded 
with seething humanity as to cease to merit 
the name of thoroughfare at all, had assumed 
all of a sudden the appearance of a city of 
the dead. 

A variety of tribes inhabit the country in 
the vicinity of, and to the north of, Tali Fu, 
and the commercial event of chief importance 
as far as the town is concerned — namely, the 
Yueh-kai, an annual fair held during the third 



moon — brings together a motley crowd, an 
epitome of the border peoples of these regions 
as far as the highlands of Tibet. According 
to official proclamation, " myriads of merchants 
from the four quarters of the globe collect 
together dense as the clouds " ; but the author 
of this document has made use of poetic licence 
to an unwarrantable degree, 5000 being about 
the number who now attend the fair. 

Tali itself does not appear to have much 
trade. I found one or two shops stocking 
foreign goods, and was told on inquiry that 
some cotton goods bearing the name of Steel 
& Co. came vid Meng-tzu. Nevertheless, there 
is little doubt but that western Yiin-nan, with 
Tali as its centre, is on the whole considerably 
more populous than the part of Yiin-nan served 
by the Red river route. This was the opinion 
of Consul Litton, whose personal acquaintance 
with the province was perhaps unique, and he 
mentions the Ho Ch'ing valley as an example of 
possibilities of the western half of the province. 
" The Ho Ch'ing valley," he says, " may be 
recommended to the attention of those who 
would have us believe that Yiin - nan is a 


poverty-stricken wilderness. The plain is 24 
miles by 5, and contains about 200 villages, 
excellently built. The city itself has about 
12,000 inhabitants. . . . The streets are 
densely crowded every ten days for market." 1 
It must be remembered that the buying capa- 
city of the people depends upon the success 
or failure of the opium and rice crops. The 
export of opium across the Sino - Burmese 
frontier is disallowed by treaty, hence the 
tendency to import foreign goods from other 
directions — i.e., the direction in which they 
sell their opium. Other possible exports sug- 
gested by Litton are ponies, mules, musk, 
hemp, straw -braid, rhubarb, drugs consumed 
by the Chinese, wool and furs from Li-chiang, 
bristles, and silk from north-west Ssuch'uan. 
I am inclined to doubt the value of the mules 
and ponies of this part of China as an article 
of . export, and if the campaign against opium 
cultivation is to bear fruit, I see very little 
prospect of Yiin-nan providing an expanding 
market for foreign goods for many years to 

1 Report on a Journey in North-West Yiin-nan. 




It is a weary struggle of twelve days from 
Tali Fu to T'eng Yiieh. The magnificence of 
the scenery does not always compensate the 
traveller for the fact that immense ranges of 
mountains, separated by correspondingly deep 
valleys, have to be crossed with monotonous 
regularity in the course of each successive 
day's march. From Hsia-kuan the track fol- 
lows a stream draining from the south-west 
corner of the Tali lake to the little village 
of Yang-pi on the river of the same name, 
dropping 1500 feet in doing so. A fine sus- 
pension-bridge stretches across the river, and 
on the far side the path zigzags up the wall 
of mountains which hems in the valley of the 


Yang - pi on the west. The range is well 
wooded, and from the summit a magnificent 
view is obtained of the Yang-pi valley and 
the snow - clad line of mountains which fills 
in the view to the north - east. Descending 
slightly, and then running along a spur at 
right angles to the range just crossed at a 
considerable height above a valley running 
east and west, the track provided a charming 
walk, shaded by a multitude of forest trees, 
conspicuous among which were magnificent 
rhododendron-trees ablaze with crimson flower. 
A tiny mountain hamlet, T'ai-p'ing-p'u, pro- 
vides a halting - place for the night on the 
evening of the third day out from Tali Fu. 

"Sir," said Joe the following morning, look- 
ing in as I finished breakfast, "can I speak 
to you ? " " Certainly," I replied. " I hear 
a very funny story here, sir," he began. 
"Well, let's have it," I said. "They say, 
sir," he continued hesitatingly, and staring at 
my now empty plate, " that anybody who eats 
T'ai-p'ing-p'u eggs must surely be taken ill 
with great pain!" "Good gracious, Joe," I 
gasped, "do you realise that I have just eaten 

The road a little west of Hsia-kuan. 



no less than three T'ai-p'ing-p'u eggs, and 
you come and tell me that I must be taken 
ill with great pain ? " " Sir, this story a very 
funny story — I don't think it can be true 
story." It fortunately proved to be false as 
far as I was concerned, but I spent a day in 
gloomy anticipation of what each succeeding 
moment might bring forth. 

We dropped hurriedly to the valley of the 
Shun-pi after leaving T'ai-p'ing-p'u, and cross- 
ing that river by a good suspension - bridge, 
followed along its right bank to its junction 
with the Shuang-cha Ho. A short distance up 
the left bank of this river brought us to the 
village of Huang-lien-pu. The usual formidable 
range faced us on the far side, and from 7.30 a.m. 
the day following until 10 a.m. I climbed dog- 
gedly and without a halt. From the summit we 
travelled on for some miles at a considerable 
altitude, through lovely wooded scenery, till 
towards evening, when we descended abruptly 
down barer hills covered with withered grass, 
which must flourish luxuriantly in the wet 
season. Below us, running at right angles to 
our course, lay the valley of the Yung-ping, a 


broad, flat-bottomed expanse densely cultivated 
— the first cultivation of any consequence met 
with since leaving Tali. Crossing the Yung- 
ping — evidently at some seasons of the year 
a broad expanse of water, but now reduced to 
two or three shallow streams flowing along the 
depressions of what looked like a broad river- 
bed — we reached the small town of Chu-tung. 
This valley is undoubtedly well populated, a 
number of small towns, or rather large villages, 
being visible along its length. During the 
evening I had a visitor in the shape of a 
Chinese student, a bearer of the second classical 
degree. He evidently hankered after better 
things, in the shape of more practical know- 
ledge, and asked me to write down in English 
a statement of his desires, that he might pre- 
sent it, if opportunity offered, on reaching 
Burma, to which country he intended making 
his way. 

Towards the end of a long march on Feb- 
ruary 19th I observed below me, at the foot 
of some steep hills, white "Cabul" tents and 
Indian camp-followers. This proved to be 
the encampment of Mr Lilley, an engineer 


despatched by the Government of India to 
examine the country with a view to deter- 
mining the practicability or otherwise of rail- 
way construction in this part of China. The 
results of the survey completed by Mr Lilley 
and his party during the early summer of 1907 
are likely to have a modifying effect upon prev- 
alent ideas, founded upon the witty criticisms 
of Colborne Baber, with regard to trade routes 
in this quarter. The whole question of rail- 
ways in Western China is dealt with in a 
later chapter, but it may not be amiss to 
explain here the origin of existing prejudice 
against the T'eng Yueh-Tali Fu line as a pos- 
sible route for a railway from Burma. 

It is based chiefly upon certain remarks of 
Colborne Baber, who travelled over this route 
as a member of the Grosvenor Mission in 1877. 
The science of mountain railway construction 
was less advanced thirty years ago than it is 
now, and it is perhaps because it has not been 
generally recognised how great have been the 
strides which have been made, during recent 
years, in this particular branch of the engineer- 
ing profession, that the conclusions arrived at 


then by one who was, after all, possessed of 
no expert engineering knowledge, have been 
generally accepted as conclusive ever since. 
His declaration in a Government paper, China, 
No. 3, 1878, that " We feel at liberty to say 
that if British trade ever adopts this track, 
we shall be delighted and astounded in about 
equal proportions," has been quoted ad naus- 
eam, and is generally held to have settled for 
all time the pretensions of the Tali Fu-T'eng 
Ytieh route as an avenue of ingress for British 
trade. The quotation given above is supported 
by others in the same paper. " The trade 
route from Ytin-nan Fu to T'eng Ytieh is the 
worst possible route with the least conceivable 
trade," he declares ; and further on, " I do not 
mean that it would be absolutely impossible to 
construct a railway. . . . By piercing half a 
dozen Mont Cenis tunnels and erecting a few 
Menai bridges, the road from Burma to Ytin- 
nan Fu could, doubtless, be much improved." 

Twenty years later engineers in the employ 
of the Ytin-nan Company, accepting the conclu- 
sions above quoted, were in search of a railway 


route to the south, the Kung-long Ferry, on the 
Burmese frontier, being selected as the starting- 
point. Major Davies, whose splendid geograph- 
ical work in Yun-nan cannot be too highly 
spoken of, finds in Baber's utterances support 
for the Kung-long Ferry scheme. Eeferring to 
the extracts above quoted, he declared at a 
meeting of the Koyal Geographical Society that 
he quite agreed with the truth of these remarks 
of Baber. " The only thing is," he went on to 
say, " they do not apply to the railway at all ; 
they refer to the road which goes westward 
from T'eng Yueh to Tali Fu, whereas the pres- 
ent proposed railway comes into Yun - nan 
from quite a different direction. Indeed, only 
half a page lower down Baber himself recom- 
mends as a probable line for a railway the very 
route which has now been adopted." 1 The 
recommendation by Baber here referred to is 
that " the object should be to attain some town 
of importance south of Yung-ch e ang and Tali 
Fu, such as Shun-ning, from which both these 

1 'Journal of the Royal Geographical Society,' Feb. 1903, 
p. 120. 


cities could be reached by ascending the 
valleys, instead of crossing all the mountain- 
ranges as must be done if the T'eng Yueh 
route is selected." 1 Similar views were ex- 
pressed by Sir George Scott, speaking at a 
meeting of the Koyal Geographical Society in 
1905. " The whole question of a railway from 
Burma has been prejudiced by Colborne Baber, 
who said that a railway there would have to be 
a series of bridges and tunnels. Well, if you 
start from Bhamo, . . . you would have to 
build these bridges and tunnels. But . . . 
there is a way round. Nature has provided us 
with a geological fault ; ... in one place, 
directly in a line with Mandalay, there is a 
curious fault — the line of rocks run due east and 
west, and up this from Mandalay a railway has 
been built. . . . The railway, so far, stops at 
Lashio, and if it goes no farther it will never 
pay ; but if we carry it along this geological 
fault to China or into China, it will be a 
success. The fault leads us not only to the 
Salwin river, but it gives us a route up the 

1 ' Supplementary Papers of the Royal Geographical Society,' 
vol. i. p. 185. 



Nam Ting river to the Mekong river water- 
shed." 1 Even more emphatic is another 

1 'Journal of the Royal Geographical Society,' June 1905, 
p. 618. For the benefit of those who are closely interested in 
the controversy over the Kung-long Ferry route, I may add 
that Sir George Scott disagreed with Major Davies as to the 
exact route to be followed. " The proper route," he declared, 
u would be to cross southwards from the Nam Ting to the 
Nam Hsung, down which the Mekong could easily be ap- 
proached. ... If once the railway could be got across the 
Mekong to Ching-tung, then there is no difficulty whatever 
in going north towards Tali Fu, or better still, to a point half- 
way between Tali and Yiin-nan Fu, whence there is an easy 
approach to the Yang-tsze." To this view Major Davies 
objected. "The line which he proposes," he wrote in the 
'Journal of the Royal Geographical Society 5 for August 1905, 
is to cross southwards from the Nam Ting to the Nam Hsung. 
I can only suppose that he means to follow the Nam Ting up 
to about latitude 23° 45' or higher, and then bend round south- 
ward, passing perhaps near Keng-ma and reaching the Nam 
Hsung at Mong-Hsung. The range which divides the Nam 
Ting from the Nam Hsung has nowhere been found as low as 
7000 feet. As the Nam Ting valley is here not much over 
2000 feet, the difficulties of getting the railway from one 
valley to the other are likely to be considerable." And further 
on, " Even if a railway could be got to Ching-tung Ting, the 
difficulties are by no means over. There is a pass of 6800 
feet between the valley of the Black river (in which Ching- 
tung Ting is situated) and that of the Red river, in which lies 
Meng-hua Ting, and another pass of 8800 feet between the 
Meng-hua Ting plain and the Tali Fu plain. Another line 
from Ching-tung Ting that Sir George Scott suggests is to a 
point half-way between Tali Fu and Yiin-nan Fu. By this he 


authority, Captain Eyder : " When we come, 
however, to consider the question of a line from 
the Kung-long Ferry up the Nam Ting valley, 
we once more enter the regions of possibility. 
. . . And this line, which Captain Watt Jones 

probably means Yiin-nan Hsien. But this place is not in the 
valley of the Black river, but in that of the Ked river, so that 
yet another high range of hills has to be crossed to reach it." 
From this point Major Davies admits that a practicable line 
for a railway could be found to the Yang-tsze at Chin-chiang- 
kai ; but this he points out is 500 miles from Sui Fu, at which 
point navigation practically ceases. " These 500 miles of 
extremely difficult construction through an absolutely unprof- 
itable country would render such a line quite impracticable." 
The line from Kung-long to Yiin-nan Hsien, followed by 
Captain Watt Jones under Major Davies's directions, is de- 
scribed briefly by Major Davies as follows : " It would follow 
up the Nam Ting from Kung-long, continuing northwards 
over a range 5600 feet to Yun Chou. From here down the 
Nan Chiao Ho to the Mekong, up this river for thirty miles, 
and then by an easy ascent up a small side stream past Kung 
Lang, and over another watershed 7200 feet to the Red river 
valley. Both the Black river and the Wei-yuan Chiang are 
avoided altogether by going round their sources." When the 
Government of India were called upon to consider the Kung- 
long Ferry route, they formed the opinion that the best-known 
route from the Kung-long Ferry onwards was not only an ex- 
tremely difficult one, but one which passed through a sparsely 
populated and unproductive part of the country, and they 
decided that little was to be gained by sinking vast sums of 
money in so unprofitable and unnecessary an enterprise. 



followed through up to Tali Fu and so on to 
Ytin-nan Fu, is the only through line into 
China from Burma that can ever be con- 
structed." 1 

Here we have a fair representation of prev- 
alent opinion upon the question of a railway 
route from Burma into Ytin-nan. Summed up, 
it amounts to this. The possibility of a rail- 
way ever being constructed along the Bhamo- 
Tali Fu route was ridiculed by a Consular 
officer thirty years ago. The conclusions then 
arrived at were accepted as valid by engineers 
examining the country with a special view to 
discovering possible railway routes in the years 
1898-1900, and a line from the Kung-long 
Ferry on the Burmese frontier vid the Nam 
Ting river to Tali Fu and Yiin-nan Fu was de- 
clared by them to be " the only through line 
into China from Burma that can ever be con- 
structed." The importance, therefore, of the 
conclusions arrived at by Mr Lilley is consider- 
able, since they invalidate all the premisses 
upon which the question of railway construc- 

1 'Journal of the Eoyal Geographical Society,' Feb. 1903, 
p. 112. 

VOL. I. E, 


tion in western Yiin-nan has been based. For 
they have definitely ascertained that there is 
no insuperable obstacle to the construction of a 
metre-gauge railway from Bhamo to Tali Fu. 

On February 20th I climbed a range of 
mountains to gaze down from their summit 
upon the waters of a great river, flowing deep 1 
and silent between towering walls of rock, 
and spanned by a bridge which hung like a 
cord between perpendicular cliffs on either side. 
Here at last was the famous Mekong, at once 
the delight and the despair of Francis Gamier, 
— the magnet which has irresistibly drawn to 
its rugged course the flower of the explorers 
of France, a vast volume of water speeding 
eternally from the frozen highlands of Tibet, 
and travelling for 2800 miles through the 
tumbled mountain labyrinths of Yiin-nan, on 
through the Shan States and Laos, adding to 
its volume at each stride forward in its course, 
to find the ocean at last through the mazes 
of its delta on the southern shores of Cochin 

The pathetic persistence with which a whole 

1 The depth here at low water proved to be 48 feet. 

Bridge over the Mekong. 



series of French explorers fought to establish 
the practicability of the Mekong as an artery 
of communication from their sea-board to the 
heart of China, provides a chapter of engrossing 
interest in the story of the exploration of Asia. 
With indefatigable zeal steam launches were 
forced up 1600 miles of hostile river; but 
the enterprise proved of no practical value. 
" Even below Luang Prabang the navigation of 
the river is fraught with immense difficulty ; 
above that point it is excessively dangerous ; 
and therefore it may safely be averred that 
there is little probability of the trade of the 
Hinterland of Indo-China being diverted from 
its ancient channels by means of a steam flotilla 
plying upon the waters of the Mekong." 1 

That part of the Mekong which stood 
athwart my course must be considered, as 
M. Vivien St Martin points out, "not as a 
trade route, but as a barrier to commerce, 
since each crossing of the river necessitates 
a descent and an ascent of from 3300 feet 
to 4400 feet each." Having negotiated the 
descent and the ascent, I sought shelter and 

1 Hugh Clifford in ' Further India. 5 


repose at the village of Shui Chai, built on 
the edge of a small cultivated basin high up 
on the range west of the river. The shelter 
was of the usual kind, and my repose was 
rudely interrupted by the village mummers, 
who continued to salute the New Year with 
jarring noises on drums and gongs. On the 
following day we dropped into a large, level, 
well - cultivated, and apparently prosperous 
plain, in which is situated the town of Yung 
Chang, the largest town between Tali Fu and 
T'eng Ytieh. It has an evil reputation for 
rowdyism, though I did not experience any 
discourtesy at the hands of its people my- 
self. In the principal inns I found merchants 
importing cotton yarn from Burma, and by 
no means adverse to seeing a railway built 
from Bhamo. 

From Yung Chang one travels in four days 
to T'eng Ytieh. The journey is a trying 
one by reason of the high ranges dividing 
the Salwin and Shweli, which have to be 
crossed. At the village of Pupiao, where I 
halted for the first night out from Yung 
Chang, I encountered a white man, engaged 


upon the task of walking round the world for 
a wager. The amount involved, he informed 
me in confidence, approximated £32,000, in 
addition to 1,000,000 francs offered by some 
Continental walking club ; but as he had four 
years in which to complete his circum-perambu- 
lation of the globe, and had so far only been 
going for four months, I agreed with him 
that much might happen before he found 
himself the proud possessor of the wagered 
money. He incidentally dropped a remark 
which led me to understand that the terms 
of his wager prevented him from asking for 
financial assistance while on his tour, though 
he had been offered quite voluntary contri- 
butions from time to time. He seemed quite 
surprised when I asked to be allowed to offer a 
small but quite voluntary contribution to his 
modest reserve fund. Before we parted I 
learned that a provincial newspaper in the 
north of England had been fortunate enough 
to secure his services as a correspondent, and 
I was favoured with the contents of an article 
destined to instruct the " people at home." 
It described a performance in Western China 


by village mummers in celebration of the 
New Year, and commented upon the appearance 
of the village lasses who took part. In the 
interests of the "people at home," for whose 
instruction this article was composed, I felt 
impelled to point out that in China women 
never took part in such performances, and that 
the individuals whom he had mistaken for 
the village lasses were, in point of fact, the 
village lads. He thought the point was a 
small one, but would be glad to make the 

My sojourn at Pupiao is further stamped 
on my mind because of a wild and yelling 
mob who broke into the inn courtyard in the 
dead of night. I was roused from slumber 
by shouts and a great hammering upon the 
courtyard gates. The gates gave way with a 
crash at the moment that I scrambled out of 
bed and grasped my revolver. It fortunately 
proved to be, not an anti-foreign riot as I 
feared, but merely a gambling dispute between 
my coolies and the villagers, and after two 
or three men on either side had been severely 
mauled, the worst offenders were successfully 


ejected and comparative quiet descended upon 
the inn once more. 

From Pupiao we crossed a mountain-range 
and then descended into the valley of the 
Salwin. Terraces of paddy-fields covered the 
lower slopes of the valley, which is wider 
than that of the Mekong ; vegetation assumed 
a semi-tropical character, and the atmosphere 
became heavy and oppressive. There are 
probably good grounds for the bad name which 
the valley has among the natives for its un- 
healthy climate. The country in the vicinity 
was described by Marco Polo as being "full 
of great woods and mountains which 'tis im- 
possible to pass, the air in summer is so impure 
and bad ; and any foreigners attempting it 
would die for certain." This must be read in 
the light of his explanatory remarks in the 
prologue of his historic work, — "and we shall 
set down things seen as seen, and tilings heard 
as heard only, so that no jot of falsehood 
may mar the truth of our Book, and that 
all who shall read it or hear it read may put 
full faith in the truth of all its contents. " 
The atmosphere is, no doubt, vitiated with 


malaria at certain seasons of the year, but 
it is doubtful whether even in this respect 
the valleys of western Yun-nan are as un- 
healthy as the valley of the Eed river in the 

The accommodation from the Salwin on to 
T'eng Ylieh — a two days' journey — is abomin- 
able, even judged by the standards of Yun-nan. 
The night is spent at a hovel a short distance 
up the mountain - range which rises on the 
west of the Shweli river, called Kan-lan-chan, 
which holds out no sufficient attraction even 
to a Ylin-nan coolie to encourage him to hasten 
his jaded steps towards the end of a tiring 
march. Even the members of my escort, who 
had found an inexhaustible source of amuse- 
ment during the previous days in snapping 
off percussion-caps with the hammers of their 
rusty muskets, lost heart and plodded silently 
and wearily up the steep ascent from the 
Shweli river. I asked them what kind of 
drill they were taught? "Oh," they replied, 
" we have no time to learn drill ! " The motto 
emblazoned on their blouses was " fear estab- 
lished" — i.e., in the enemy. The muskets, 


however, of these Terrorists are rusty, and 
the Terrorists themselves of little use. Major 
Davies tells a story which throws an illumin- 
ating light upon military matters in these 
parts of China. In the Ning-ylian valley he 
met a Lolo chief, who had got up a small 
rebellion the year before against the Chinese. 
On condition of his changing his allegiance 
and joining the Chinese forces against the 
independent Lolos, he was granted a full 
pardon. He and his irregulars were then 
sent to the front because, as the Chinese 
cynically remarked, " they are stupid men 
who are not afraid of dying." The chiefs 
army act was inscribed on a red placard and 
carried by an advance guard, and read as 
follows : — 

Penalties for Breach of Discipline. 

For not obeying bugle calls . . decapitation. 

For losing arms or ammunition . „ 

For destroying property of civilians „ 

For being drunk and fighting . the stocks. 

For taking a wrong rifle . . „ 

&c. &c. 

A new military spirit is unquestionably 


being born among the Chinese of the eastern 
and northern provinces, but it has not yet 
permeated the western provinces. 

On February 25th I gazed down from the 
summit of the " Momein pass " of Margary 
upon a large flat-bottomed basin covered with 
paddy-fields, and a little later passed through 
the city gates of T'eng Ylieh. 



t'eng yueh to bhamo. 

At T'eng Yueh I found Mr Maze, Com- 
missioner of Customs, and his colleagues, 
who entertained me hospitably during my 
two days' stay in the town. This latter 
resembles other towns in Yiin-nan, and re- 
quires no particular description. It is the 
first objective of caravans coming from 
Burma, but of the foreign goods imported 
only a comparatively small proportion remain 
for local consumption. Its foreign trade 
amounted in 1906 to 1,397,877 Hh Tls. 

On the last day of February I started on 
the last lap of my long journey. At Nan- 
tien, where I halted for the night, the lady 
in charge of the best inn refused to take me 


in because, she declared, she wanted no 
foreign devils in her place, though this piece 
of news was sedulously kept from me at the 
time. I found myself in consequence in a 
small and filthy hostelry, the only room 
available being a passage room through which 
the half-dozen inmates of the inner chamber 
perpetually passed. On the following day I 
marched twenty miles to Kangai. We were 
now in the valley of the Ta-ping river, 
a fine broad expanse hemmed in on either 
side by high mountain-ranges. The nature of 
the country, too, began to change as we fell 
to a level of under 3000 feet, large clumps of 
big bamboos growing on the lower slopes, and 
huge shady banyan-trees becoming common. 
The country is inhabited by Shans, a pleasant 
and peaceful people. Their women are con- 
spicuous by reason of their enormous head- 
dress, consisting of a turban of dark -blue 
material widening towards the top, and stand- 
ing as much as a foot high. Two Shan 
soldiers were sent with me as a guard of 
honour, but as neither of them could speak 
or understand Chinese, and no one of my 


followers could understand Shan, their pres- 
ence was more ornamental than useful. 

From Kangai we marched sometimes close 
along the river's edge, sometimes at a distance 
from it. Here and there picturesque Shan 
villages were to be seen half hidden among 
clumps of giant bamboo and wide -spreading 
banyans. These latter trees were dotted about 
along the road, and provided pleasant spots 
at which to halt. At Lung-chang-kai, where 
we halted for the night, market was in full 
swing, the women of a variety of tribes, pro- 
fusely ornamented with silver bracelets round 
arms and neck, mixing with the stately Shans, 
and producing a varied and animated scene. 
Here, as in most of the Shan villages through 
which I passed, I saw bottles of sweets from 
Glasgow conspicuous among the small stocks 
of foreign goods on sale at the stalls and 
booths. Thirty years earlier Gill had found 
Bryant & May's matches " sold at Manwyne 
for 25 cash a-box, though the price seems 
incredible." Bryant & May have, however, 
succumbed to Japanese competition, matches 
from which country may be bought anywhere 


along the road at a cost not of 25 cash, but 
of 5 cash a-box ! 

The New Year was, to my annoyance, still 
being celebrated, and I was kept awake half 
the night by a discordant fanfare on horns, 
gongs, and drums. As usual, these serenaders 
selected a position immediately outside the 
hovel in which I was housed, under the mis- 
taken idea that they were contributing to the 
pleasures of my existence, and with the ever- 
present hope that cash would be forthcoming 
by way of return for this service. It is no 
use trying to explain to a Chinese that you 
would prefer to go to sleep: he would simply 
ask you why, if that is the case, you do not 
do so ? If you endeavour to explain to him 
that the reason why you do not do so is 
because of the noise he is making, he simply 
cannot understand you. The reason, of course, 
is that no combination of clanging and jarring 
discords has as yet been discovered which is 
capable of preventing the Chinese from sleeping 
when he feels disposed to, and his mind is 
consequently incapable of grasping the idea 
that any one can be so constituted as to be 


prevented from falling asleep by any external 
circumstances. As Dr Smith has said, "It 
would be easy to raise in China an army of 
a million men — nay, of ten millions — tested 
by competitive examination as to their capacity 
to go to sleep across three wheelbarrows, with 
head downwards, like a spider, their mouths 
wide open and a fly inside ! " 

The last stage in Chinese territory is Man- 
shien, a collection of a score or so of huts of 
bamboo matting plastered with mud. Across 
the river to the north the houses of Manwyne 
are visible among a grove of trees — the scene 
of the murder of Augustus Margary. The 
old road passes through Manwyne, and is still 
largely used by caravans owing to the better 
accommodation and supplies which it provides. 
But on the south bank, from Manshien onwards, 
the new road becomes a wide and well-graded 
mountain path, recently constructed by British 
engineers, — at China's expense, as far as it 
lies in her territory, — and it is borne pleasantly 
in upon the traveller, surfeited with the vile- 
ness of Chinese tracks, that he is at last within 
reach of a civilising Power. 



An officer in charge of a small frontier 
guard quartered at Manshien accompanied 
me to the frontier. Beyond the village 
the level plain down which I had been 
marching for the past two days comes to 
an end, and the Ta-ping river forces its 
way along a deep and narrow valley between 
mountain walls covered with dense vegeta- 
tion. After marching for about twelve miles 
we came upon two or three sheds of bamboo 
matting on the jungle - covered banks of a 
mountain torrent, the Kulika. This stream 
forms the boundary between China and 
Burma, and a guard of ten Chinese soldiers 
is posted here. It is characteristic of the 
part of the world in which one is travelling, 
that with a scientifically devised and well- 
constructed road on either side, one finds 
nothing but a large tree - trunk to carry one 
safely across the frontier stream. And the 
reason for this anomaly is even more char- 
acteristic — namely, an inability on the part 
of the two coterminous Powers to come to 
any agreement as to which of them should 

In the forests of Upper Burma. 


have the care of a bridge, should it be con- 

For three days after crossing the frontier 
one travels on through magnificent tropical 
scenery. Huge flowering trees cover the 
mountain - sides, great creepers trail from 
branch to branch, lovely tree - ferns, and 
other vegetation brought into being by a 
combiDation of heat and moisture, abound 
on all sides. The road is excellently built, 
but passes through a practically uninhabited 
tract of country until it debouches on the 
third day on to the Bhamo plain. Eest- 
houses providing shelter for the night exist, 
but supplies are not forthcoming, and this 
was pointed out to me by my Chinese 
coolies as a grave disadvantage to the road. 
In the eyes of the Chinese, the state of a 
road from an engineering point of view is 
not comparable in importance with the facili- 
ties which it holds out for obtaining pork 
and rice. Caravans of mules and ponies 
were met with here and there, mostly 
carrying loads of raw cotton from Burma 

vol. i. s 


to T'eng Yiieh ; but I noted it as an 
interesting fact that on the road from Sui 
Fu on the Yang-tsze to Yun-nan Fu, vile 
as that track is, I observed considerably 
more traffic than I did on the Bhamo- 
T'eng Yiieh route, while the T'eng Yiieh- 
Tali Fu-Ylin-nan Fu road, so far as I could 
judge, had the least amount of traffic of 
the three. 

On March 7th I marched into the little 
town of Bhamo, and here, to all intents 
and purposes, my journey may be said to 
have had its termination. The long tramp 
across the heart of China was finished, and 
I was once more under the protection of 
the Union Jack and surrounded by the 
comforts and conveniences of civilisation. 
I travelled by steamer through the denies 
of the Irrawadi, spent a few days in 
Mandalay and Eangoon, picking up at the 
former place news from the outside world 
which had been accumulating in the shape 
of letters and papers for the past five 
months, and reached Calcutta at the end 
of the month. But I am here concerned 



only with the Far East, and with my arrival 
in Burma I have reached the western limit 
of my present field of study. My narrative 
of travel is at an end; but there lies before 
me the task of setting before the reader the 
results of my investigations, and the con- 
clusions that are to be drawn from them. 
Questions of trade, of the building of railways, 
of the present temper of the Chinese, of Japan's 
position in the Far East, await discussion ; but 
the chapters dealing with these subjects may 
conveniently be reserved for a second volume, 
and I may not inappropriately close the present 
volume with a brief historical sketch of the 
making of the frontier which walls in the 
Burmese possessions of Great Britain, and 
marks the limit of Chinese expansion towards 
the south-west. 



" Frontiers are the razor's edge on which hang suspended the 
modern*_issues of war or peace, of life or death to nations." 

— Lord Curzon. 



"Frontiers are the razor's edge on which 
hang suspended the modern issues of war 
or peace, of life or death to nations ; " 1 
and of all the frontiers which have claimed 
the attention of British statesmen, none are 
comparable in interest and importance to 
the land frontiers of the Indian empire. 
When the Indian frontier is spoken of, the 
mind inevitably flies to the tumbled laby- 
rinth of mountains and valleys strewn for 
hundreds of miles along the wild and pas- 

1 Lord Curzon in his Romanes Lecture, delivered at 
Oxford in 1907. 


sionate Afghan borderland suggested by the 
well-worn phrase "the North- West Frontier." 
But there is another frontier, which may be 
termed " the North - East Frontier," which 
has received but a modest share of public 
attention, but which nevertheless can boast 
its tale of tragedies and comedies, and 
which has been responsible from time to 
time for no small amount of perturbation 
among diplomatists and even European 
Cabinets. It is of this frontier, stretching 
from the little - known highlands of eastern 
Tibet in the north to Siam and French 
Indo-China in the south, that I propose to 
speak ; and since tragedies play so fine a 
part in the making of an empire's frontiers, 
let me begin with one of the pathetic 
tragedies of the North-East Frontier. 

At a point where the magnificent river- 
side esplanade of Shanghai sweeps past the 
substantial and affluent - looking buildings of 
the British Consulate on the one side, and 
skirts a stretch of land known as the 
public gardens on the other, to pass on 
over the Su-chow creek to that part of the 


" model settlement" which stretches away 
down the river in rows of solid brick build- 
ings, and eventually noisy, smoking cotton 
mills towards Wu-sung and the sea, stands 
a prettily executed monument in stone. 
The passer-by learns from an inscription 
that it was erected in memory of Augustus 
Eaymond Margary, who died a violent death 
in the wild regions of far-away Ytin-nan in 
February 1875, whither he had proceeded, 
under orders of the strictest secrecy, on a 
mission to which the Government attached 
the greatest importance. " I started off with 
a heavy heart," he wrote in his diary on 
August 24th. "Passing by the club, which 
was flaring with gas at every window, I 
saw the white -coated figures of the late 
birds, some poring over the mail papers in 
their luxurious library, others finishing up 
their billiards in a higher storey. I hurried 
on like a fugitive, and hid my face from 
one or two friends strolling home from a 
dinner somewhere, for I did not want to 
w r aste time in explanations, or to be 
hindered by post - prandial larks. It was 


quite painful to feel I was going away on 
a great journey, and yet could not take 
a warm farewell of my friends." 1 Never- 
theless, the duty with which he had been 
entrusted — namely, that of travelling over- 
land to meet the mission about to be de- 
spatched from India to survey a new route 
for commerce between Burma and Western 
China — was one which excited his keenest 
enthusiasm. " Only think what a glorious 
opportunity I shall have of seeing this 
wonderful country, and of bringing to light 
numerous facts as yet unknown from regions 
untrodden by foreigners. You cannot think 
how elated I am," 2 is a single example of 
many that might be quoted from his journal 
or his letters, showing the intense interest 
and satisfaction which, despite the most 
cruel ill - health, he felt in the journey 
which lay before him. And the goal to 
be attained was kept steadfastly in sight. 
" You must picture me standing alone on 
the heights of the Momein pass, far away 

1 Letter to his mother, August 24th, 1874. 

2 Letter to his parents, August 15th, 1874. 

Monument to Augustus Raymond Margary. 



on the Burmese frontier, and anxiously scan- 
ning the country beyond for the first 
glimpse of Indian helmets approaching from 
the west. Then you can picture the meet- 
ing. China and India grasping hands, and 
awakening those primeval echoes with a 
British hurrah over the fait accompli" 1 

The Momein pass was reached, beyond on 
the Burmese frontier the Indian helmets 
were found, the long solitary journey had 
been successfully accomplished. But with the 
advance of the Indian mission a sudden 
change came over the scene. The gallant 
traveller, who as an individual had met, 
with but few exceptions, with the greatest 
courtesy and the warmest hospitality, was 
treacherously and brutally murdered, and 
the mission itself forced to beat a precari- 
ous and undignified retreat to the land 
whence it had come. Thirty and more 
years have rolled by since the defeat of 
the ill-starred expedition, Upper Burma has 
since fallen into the lap of Great Britain, 
the ponderous wheels of the Chinese diplo- 

1 Letter to hia parents, August 15th, 1874. 


matic machine have been set in motion 
from time to time with a view to deter- 
mining boundaries between the now co- 
terminous empires, but the engaging spec- 
tacle of India and China grasping hands 
can even now be only said to have been 
realised in a modified degree. 

For more than a century the prospect of 
opening up communications between Burma 
and Western China has excited the attention 
not only of the British mercantile community 
resident in Kangoon, — naturally directly inter- 
ested in such a project, — but of a far wider 
public in England itself ; while the British 
Government, moved from time to time by 
the importunity of the associated chambers 
of commerce in England, India, and China, 
has made fitful and not altogether well-timed 
endeavours to further the various schemes 
proposed. Such trade as there was between 
Burma and China — amounting to £500,000 
half a century ago — came to an abrupt termin- 
ation with the outbreak of the Mohammedan 
rebellion in 1855, which trailed with fire and 
sword across the province of Yun-nan for a 


period of seventeen years; and it was this 
unwelcome cessation of trade which led to 
the despatch of an expedition, under Colonel 
Sladen, across the borderland into Ytin-nan 
in 1868. The chief objects of this mission 
were laid down by General Fytche, Chief 
Commissioner of British Burma, to be " to 
discover the cause of the cessation of the 
trade formerly existing by these routes, the 
exact position held by the Kakhyens, Shans, 
and Panthays with reference to that traffic, 
and their disposition or otherwise to resusci- 
tate it." 

Such objects were, no doubt, perfectly 
legitimate ; yet it is not difficult to conceive 
that a British mission, travelling into the 
heart of a disaffected Chinese province, would 
not be viewed with either satisfaction or 
equanimity by the Chinese ; and though " care 
was especially taken to disown any political 
partisanship, and to proclaim to all that the 
object was to explore in the interests of com- 
merce," 1 the cordial welcome accorded to the 
party by the Mohammedan rebel in power 

1 ' Mandalay to Momein ' — Dr Anderson. 


at T'eng Yueh, and the bond of friendship 
which sprang up between the Chinese Moham- 
medans and their co-religionists of the British 
escort, were unquestionably calculated to ex- 
cite the suspicion and hostility of the Chinese 
Government. Certain arrangements for regu- 
lating trans-frontier trade were come to with 
the Mohammedan ruler of T'eng Ytieh, and 
the mission carried away with them "letters 
expressive of the desire of the Panthay Sultan's 
Government to enter into friendly relations 
with our Government, and to foster mutual 
trade." 1 

The belief of the mission that a Moham- 
medan empire was about to be established 
in Western China was ill - founded, and its 
achievements, as far as practical results are 
concerned, were consequently of little value, 
while its friendly attitude towards the Moham- 
medan faction undoubtedly militated against 
the success of a second expedition, despatched 
under Colonel Brown during the opening days 
of 1875. Chinese suspicion, moreover, as to 
the projects of Great Britain as a Mohammedan 
Power, already aroused by the procedure of 

1 'Mandalay to Moinein'— Dr Anderson. 


the Sladen Mission in 1868, had received con- 
firmation in the interim in the shape of a 
convention contracted with another Moham- 
medan rebel, on another troublous frontier 
of the flowery kingdom, the Athalik Ghazi 
Khan, Yakub Beg, who was playing at empire 
on his own in the dim distance of Chinese 
Turkestan. And while it is claimed that the 
Peking Government had given their sanction 
to the expedition by signing the passports 
for both Margary and the party under Colonel 
Brown, they subsequently denied that they 
had been given to understand that the pass- 
ports granted were for any purpose beyond 
that of mere travel. However this may be, 
the immediate result of the advance of the 
mission was, as has been seen, the cold-blooded 
murder of a gallant English gentleman and 
the precipitate retreat of the remainder of the 
party ; the subsequent effect, the opening of 
the ports of Ichang, Wuhu, Wenchow, and 
Pakhoi to trade, and of a number of villages 
on the Yang-tsze as ports of call. 1 

Hereafter a number of circumstances con- 
spired to concentrate the attention of European 

1 By the Chifu Convention of 1876. 


Cabinets upon the rapidly growing problems 
of the troublous Sino - Burmese borderland. 
An ineradicable belief in the richness and 
immeasurable commercial potentialities of the 
south-western provinces of China still stirred 
the pulses and fired the imagination of the 
mercantile community when, on New Year's 
Day 1886, a large additional slice of territory 
fell like a ripe cherry into the mouth of 
Britain, shaken from the tree by the thinly- 
veiled political ambitions and aggressive 
machinations of the budding imperialism of 
France. 1 

Out of this rearrangement of ancient terri- 
tories sprang inevitable questions as to the 
definition of respective boundaries and rights. 
The bubble of Chinese greatness still awaited 
pricking at the hands of Japan, and the 
exasperating subserviency displayed by the 
British Foreign Office to Chinese suscepti- 
bilities was seized upon by the astute diplo- 
matists of that country and speedily turned 
to good account. A demand was preferred 

1 For the history of the annexation of Upper Burma, see 
next chapter. 


to the British Government for the continuance 
of the despatch of a decennial mission of 
tribute, said to be due from Burma in recog- 
nition of her vassalage. The Burmans, how- 
ever, stoutly denied the claims of China to 
suzerainty, and declared the arrangement to be 
a reciprocal one, by which each country had 
agreed to send complimentary presents to one 
another every ten years. 1 Lord Salisbury had 

1 The origin of the complimentary decennial mission be- 
tween the two countries was as follows. In 1765 the ill- 
treatment of certain Chinese traders at the Ta-ping river 
and in Keng Tung brought down a Chinese army, which 
met with defeat. Two years later a second Chinese force 
of 250,000 foot and 25,000 horse again met with disaster, 
the Burmese regaining the eight Shan States of the Ta-ping 
basin which had been included in the Chinese empire for 
many centuries. The following year the Chinese made one 
more effort to inflict defeat upon the redoubtable Burmans, 
but finding themselves again unequal to the task, opened 
negotiations and concluded a treaty in which, according to 
the Burmese, no mention was made of Burma being a vassal 
of China, but an arrangement come to by which the respec- 
tive monarchs of China and Burma were to exchange letters 
and presents once every ten years. Though Chinese records 
lay great stress upon the duty of Burma to send tribute to 
Peking, and omit all reference to any duty to reciprocate the 
mission, the Burmese contention is supported by the fact that 
China was, in point of fact, the first to send a mission, which 
reached Theinni in 1787, carrying a large number of presents 
VOL. I. T 


scarcely concluded an arrangement on these 
lines when the short-lived Cabinet of 1885 — 
" the Cabinet of caretakers " — went out, and 
were replaced, early in February 1886, by a 
Ministry drawn from that party whose advent 
to power is always hailed with satisfaction and 
delight by all and sundry intent on knocking 
off corners of the empire, and extracting con- 
cessions from Great Britain abroad. Lord 
Eosebery, the new Foreign Minister, took the 
earliest opportunity of reversing the decision 
of his predecessor and agreeing to the despatch 
of presents from Burma only, " thereby un- 
equivocally admitting China's claims to suzer- 
ainty, and gratuitously tendering a most abject 
submission to the Son of Heaven." 1 

The proceedings which followed upon this 
decision provide a light and comic interlude 
in the usually ponderous annals of serious 
diplomacy. The Chinese envoy in London, 

and a letter from the Emperor K'ien Lung couched in terms 
of equality, except that he spoke of himself as the " elder 
brother," and of the King of Ava as his "younger brother." 
(See Sir A. Phayre's 'History of Burma.') 

1 ' Far Cathay and Farther India ' — General A. R. Mac- 
Mahon — p. 5. 


the Marquis Tseng, consented to waive the 
claim of his Government to a tribute mission 
in return for a readjustment of the frontier 
which, among other things, would place Bhamo 
on the Chinese side. Lord Eosebery, unbe- 
known to Marquis Tseng, telegraphed to Mr 
O'Conor, the British Charge d'Affaires, to 
ascertain the feeling in Peking. The Yamen, 
it was found, knew little and cared less about 
the Marquis's projects of frontier rearrange- 
ment, but did care a great deal about the 
requisition before them for passports for a 
mission under Mr Macauley to travel through 
Tibet, and were likewise much exercised to 
know what provision was being made for the 
despatch of a mission from Burma to Peking. 
With this information in hand, the wires were 
set in motion once more ; and while Lord 
Eosebery indulged in further animated dis- 
cussions on the advantages and counter-dis- 
advantages of various boundary delimitations 
with Marquis Tseng, Mr O'Conor successfully 
carried out his instructions to put off at all 
costs the question of frontier demarcation by 
the conclusion of the convention of 1886, the 


bribe for the temporary disposal of the frontier 
difficulty being the withdrawal of the requisi- 
tion for permits for the expedition to Tibet, 
and the acceptance of China's demand for a 
decennial mission from Burma, to which, as 
has been pointed out, she had no valid claim. 
We may venture to hope that it came to the 
notice of his lordship that when passing 
through Yun-nan in 1894 (the year in which 
Lord Rosebery became First Minister of the 
Crown) Dr Morrison found the Chinese " daily 
expecting the arrival of two white elephants 
from Burma, which were coming in charge 
of the British Eesident in Singai (Bhamo), as a 
present to the Emperor, and were the official 
recognition by England that Burma is still a 
tributary of the Middle Kingdom." 1 

Upon the fatuity of the policy which led 
up to this situation I have descanted else- 
where. 2 The net results have been a tiresome 
and long - protracted series of negotiations 
which only found solution in the convention 

1 'An Australian in China.' The italics are mine. 

2 See in ' On the Outskirts of Empire in Asia,' chapter xxvii., 
entitled " A Tibetan Episode." 


of 1897, and indirectly a troublesome crop of 
political questions culminating in the Young- 
husband Mission of 1904 to the capital of 

The convention of 1886 was so far successful 
that it staved off for six years the question 
of frontier delimitation ; but by a curious 
coincidence, with the return of Lord Rosebery 
to the Foreign Office in 1892 the border 
problem again cropped up, and in the conven- 
tion of March 1st, 1894, a tentative agreement 
was at last drawn up. 

It is unnecessary to describe the frontier 
herein decided upon, because, more Sinico, the 
provisions of the agreement were never carried 
into effect, a glaring breach of Article V. by the 
Chinese rendering the convention void. By 
this article England had agreed to renounce 
in favour of China " all the suzerain rights in 
and over the States of Munglem and Kiang 
Hung formerly possessed by the Kings of Ava 
concurrently with the Emperors of China." 
This was done with the sole proviso that "his 
Majesty the Emperor of China shall not, 
without previously coming to an agreement 


with her Brittanic Majesty, cede either Mun- 
glem or Kiang Hung, or any portion thereof, 
to any other nation." Since, however, the 
notoriously anti - British Inspector of Militia 
on the frontier, Li Shao Yen, immediately 
afterwards took it upon himself to hand over 
a portion of Kiang Hung to France, it became 
necessary to toil all over the old ground once 
more, and it was not until 1897 that the 
question was finally closed. By a convention 
concluded in February of that year Great 
Britian consented to "waive her objections to 
the alienation by China by the convention with 
France of June 20th, 1895, of territory form- 
ing a portion of Kiang Hung, in derogation 
of the provisions of the convention between 
Great Britain and China of March 1st, 1894," 
in return for certain concessions on China's 
part in connection with the previously ar- 
ranged frontier. By this instrument it was 
determined that the frontier to be demarcated 
should commence at a high peak situated 
approximately in latitude 25° 35' and longi- 
tude 98° 14' east of Greenwich, and terminate 
at a point on the Mekong where the district 


of Kiang Cheng impinges upon the territory 
of Kiang Hung. It was agreed that a tract 
of country to the south of the Nam Wan 
river belonging to China should be held on 
a perpetual lease by Great Britain, afterwards 
fixed at 1000 rupees a-year, and that neither 
Munglem nor any part of Kiang Hung on the 
right bank of the Mekong, nor any part of it 
in Chinese possession on the left bank, might 
be ceded to any other nation without Great 
Britain's consent. Owing to the veil of ob- 
scurity which still hung over the geographical 
peculiarities of the nebulous country lying 
to the north of latitude 25°, it was decided 
that the settlement of this portion of the 
frontier should be left to the more accurate 
knowledge of a future date. 

Beyond the settlement of the much-debated 
frontier, some attention was paid to the all- 
important matter of commerce and communica- 
tions, which had been productive of a vast out- 
pouring of literature and discussion, of fruitless 
action, and of no little disappointment and 
humiliation in the past. With certain specified 
exceptions, Great Britain granted free entry 


and free exit to importations and exportations 
across the frontier, while China gave reductions 
of three-tenths of the general tariff of the Im- 
perial Maritime Customs on imports and four- 
tenths on exports over the same ground. Per- 
mission was granted China to establish a consul 
at Eangoon, and to Great Britain to appoint 
similar functionaries at Momein or Shun-ning 
Fu and Sstl-mao, and British subjects acquired 
the right to establish themselves and trade at 
these places under the same conditions as at 
the treaty ports in other parts of China. And 
beyond all this, arrangements were made for 
connecting the telegraphic system of the two 
countries ; permission was accorded to " Chinese 
vessels carrying merchandise, ores, and minerals 
of all kinds, and coming from or destined 
for China, freely to navigate the Irrawadi 
on the same conditions as to dues and other 
matters as British vessels," and China agreed 
to consider whether the conditions of trade 
justify the construction of railways in Yun- 
nan, and, " in the event of their construction, 
to connect them with the Burmese lines." 
So much for the Agreement of 1897, which 


determines, as far as any document can do so, 
the boundaries of Great Britain and China at 
the junction of their respective dominions. 
Before touching upon the part played by a 
third Power — France — in the making of the 
North-East Frontier, it may be well to narrate 
briefly the events following upon the conclusion 
of the Agreement, thus bringing the story of 
the frontier, as far as Great Britain and China 
are concerned, up to the present day. 

The actual work of demarcating the frontier, 
accepted by both countries in the Agreement 
of 1897, still remained to be done, and a 
party of British and Chinese commissioners 
were occupied with this task up to the end of 
the winter of 1899-1900. 

The task was no easy one, and resulted in a 
boundary-line being marked out which is not 
accepted in toto to this day by the Government 
of China. But apart from differences between 
the British and Chinese commissioners as to 
the interpretation of the boundary clauses of 
the Agreement, of which more in a moment, no 
little difficulty was experienced owing to the 
attitude of the border tribes. Of these, the 


most uncouth and the most troublesome were 
the wild Wa, a primitive people occupying a 
block of territory extending for about one 
hundred miles along the Salwin, and for half 
that distance inland to the watershed between 
that river and the Mekong, an area bisected by 
the 99th parallel of east longitude and lying be- 
tween and on either side of the 22nd and 23rd 
parallels of latitude. 1 The most objectionable 
feature of this tribe is its head-hunting proclivi- 
ties, though it appears that heads, being believed 
to be necessary to ensure good crops, peace, and 
prosperity, are sought after as a result of erron- 
eous agricultural theories rather than out of 
mere wantonness or lust of killing. "With- 
out a head they could not hope to have good 
crops. . . . When, therefore, a new village is 
formed, or a sacrifice of a special kind is needed, 
the young Was go out in bands head-hunting 
— which means that they waylay any strangers 
they may happen to meet and deprive them of 
their heads. The hunting season opens in 
March and lasts through April — until, in fact, 

1 ' Gazetteer of Upper Burma,' part i., vol. i. p. 495. 


sufficient heads to ensure a good harvest have 
been obtained." 1 However worthy in inten- 
tion, the habit is none the less objectionable in 
practice, and is, indeed, as Marco Polo would 
doubtless have remarked — as he did of another 
matter — " a very evil custom and a parlous ! " 
The market value of different varieties of heads 
is, according to the ' Gazetteer of Upper Burma,' 
as follows : " The skulls of the unwarlike Lem 
come lowest. They can sometimes be had for 
two rupees. La'hu heads can be had for about 
three times as much. . . . Burmese heads 
have not been available for nearly a generation, 
and Chinamen's heads run to about fifty rupees, 
for they are dangerous game. European heads 
have not come on the market ; there are no 
quotations." 2 This last sentence, it is to be 
feared, no longer holds good, for two members 
of the boundary commission, Major W. Kiddle, 
K.A.M.C., and Mr A. B. Sutherland, fell victims 
to this peculiar greed, thus adding yet one 

1 F. W. Carey, ' Journal of the China Branch of the Koyal 
Asiatic Society,' vol. xxxvi. 

2 ' Gazetteer of Upper Burma,' part i., vol. i. p. 502. 


more to the tragedies of the frontier. Mr 
Litton, too, narrowly escaped a similar fate, 
being saved by the prompt action of a Chinese 

It was found possible, however, to impress 
upon the understanding of the wild "Was the 
necessity of attuning their conduct, in their 
intercourse with Great Britain, to the standards 
demanded by the canons of civilised society, 
and the chief difficulty in the way of a satis- 
factory and lasting delimitation arose not out 
of the social faux pas of the border tribes, but 
out of the action of the Chinese commissioners 
themselves. All went well until the winter of 
1898-1900, when the Chinese commissioner 
suddenly raised objections to the proposed 
demarcation of a section of the frontier, about 
200 miles in length, lying between a point at 
the confluence of the Nam Hsung with the 
Nam Ting on the north and Pangsang Nalawt 
on the south. Producing a map, now known 
as the Hsieh map, which he declared had been 
signed by Lord Kosebery and the Chinese 
Minister Hsieh in 1894, he accused the British 

"scott's line." 


commissioner, Sir G. Scott, of duplicity, and 
wound up an insulting despatch by declaring 
that the British Foreign Office had secretly pre- 
pared the map attached to the Agreement of 
1897 with a view to altering the line of frontier 
shown on the Hsieh map. 

The British commissioner, on the other 
hand, held that if forgery had been committed, 
it was not in Downing Street but in Peking ; 
and knowing something of the immense 
capacity of Chinese diplomatists for wasting 
time, judged that it would be better to complete 
the demarcation of the frontier first, and then 
begin to think about despatch writing after- 
wards. This was accordingly done, and the 
section of the frontier thus demarcated without 
the assistance of the Chinese, and known as 
" Scott's line," was forwarded with the rest of 
the frontier line to Peking. Here it remains, 
and is likely to remain, the subject from time 
to time of polite discussion between the repre- 
sentatives of Great Britain and of China, the 
former declaring that it is regarded by his 
Government as the frontier, and the latter 


rejoining with perfect amiability that this is a 
view of the case with which the Chinese Gov- 
ernment is quite unable to concur. 1 

Beyond the demarcation of the Sino-Burmese 
frontier south of the high peak mentioned in 
the Agreement, a boundary -line between the 
territories of the two countries north of that 
point has been roughly laid down. From the 
peak, situated in latitude 25° 35' and longitude 
98° 14', the line has been carried north-east to 
a peak 11,500 feet high in the range hemming 
in the Salwin on the west and thence due north 
along the summit of the range to a point mid- 
way between latitude 26° and 27°, whence it 
has been taken across the river to the top of 
the range forming the watershed between the 
Salwin and the Mekong. From here it is drawn 
north again along the summit of the range to a 
point about midway between latitudes 27° and 
28°, where the Salwin is recrossed and the line 

1 The following is the reply to a question put by me to the 
Foreign Secretary in the House of Commons on June 1st, 
1908 : " The Chinese Government have not yet accepted the 
line which H.M. Government notified to them as, in their 
opinion, constituting the boundary. Negotiations have taken 
place at intervals, but no settlement has been arrived at yet." 


carried due west to a point on the river Nmai 
Hka, where Yiin-nan is supposed to give place 
to Tibet. 

The " North-East Frontier," then, may now 
be said to be a geographical reality, and the 
only work in connection with it which still 
remains — the introduction of civilisation, law, 
and order into the areas occupied by the less 
known of the border tribes — is a task which 
can be taken up at leisure, and which will 
doubtless be regarded as one which does not 
call for any immediate action. 1 The dictum of 

1 Speaking of Upper Burma at Mandalay on November 
28th, 1901, Lord Curzon said of it that it was especially inter- 
esting to one who had made frontiers of empire his peculiar 
study, and who knew no spectacle more absorbing than that 
of Oriental peoples passing by a steady progress from back- 
wardness to civilisation, without at the same time forfeiting 
the religious creed, the traditions, or the national characteris- 
tics of their race. "Here in Upper Burma," he declared, 
" both extremes of this process may be observed ; for, on the 
one hand, in the settled tracts are an intelligent and tractable 
race, immersed in agriculture or business, and living under 
the sway of one of the oldest and most cultured religions ; on 
the other hand, one has only to proceed to the north-eastern 
border to encounter tribes who still derive pleasure from 
cutting off each other's heads. . . . Here is a situation and a 
task that will occupy the genius of the British race for many 


Sir Kobert Peel, that " when civilisation and 
barbarism come into contact, the latter must 
inevitably give way," 1 has the assent of history, 
and while it is certain that the eventual result 
of the contact of civilisation and barbarism in 
this neighbourhood will be in keeping with the 
teaching of history, there appears to be little 
to be gained by endeavouring to bring about 
by rapid and violent stages that which must 
sooner or later follow with the unerring cer- 
tainty of a law of nature. 

a long day to come. ... I rejoice to think of what remains 
for those who come after me to do, and that not for many- 
generations will India fail within its borders to provide my 
countrymen with the work for which their instincts seem 
especially to fit them among the nations of the earth." 
1 In the Scinde debate of 1844. 




In the preceding chapter I have outlined the 
history of Anglo-Chinese relations on the Bur- 
mese marches up to the present day. The 
part played by France in the events which 
led up to the annexation of Upper Burma has 
been mentioned, and in order to complete the 
sketch of the building of the frontier, it is 
necessary to pass in brief review the action of 
that Power in this part of Asia, since, for the 
whole of an anxious decade, she stood boldly 
in the way of the peaceful moulding of India's 
eastern frontier. 

In judging of French action in Indo-China it 
must not be forgotten that she had at one time 

vol. i. u 


aspired to become the overlord of India itself, 
and had actually grasped within her hand the 
sceptre of Indian empire. For a brief and 
breathless moment the whole continent of India 
vibrated beneath the magnetic touch of the 
dramatic figure of Dupleix, and when the 
glittering prospect opened up by him faded 
before the grim tenacity and forceful deter- 
mination of the seamen and traders of Great 
Britain, a craving for empire sprang up in 
adjacent territories and found expression in 
a series of ill - conceived enterprises in the 
direction of Burma and Siam. Bearing in 
mind the disappointment suffered by her 
eclipse on the Indian continent, it is not al- 
together surprising to find that the sequence 
of events in Further India already described, 
disclosed in their onward march a growing 
rivalry between England and France, and 
pointed clearly to the danger which attended 
the approaching shock of collision between 
their rapidly converging frontiers " The game 
of conquest and politics in Indo - China, the 
vicissitudes of which had been heretofore al- 
most confined to the struggles of the obscure 


states within its bounds, were henceforth to 
be played by Powers from afar, and to in- 
fluence the future of old European Govern- 
ments." 1 

The annexation of Upper Burma sooner or 
later was, in all probability, inevitable ; but it 
was the action of France which was responsible 
for its actual accomplishment. Eumours of a 
Franco-Burmese Convention aroused the sus- 
picions of the India Office in the summer of 
1885. Questions were addressed to the French 
Government. The paramount position of Great 
Britain was admitted ; the Ministers of France 
" temporised politely and deprecated, while 
they did not arrest, the activities of " 2 their 
agent upon the spot ; and it was their agent 
upon the spot who was guiding and controlling 
events in Upper Burma. Nowhere is the real 
story of this gentleman's proceedings so w T ell 
told as in Dr Morrison's inimitable account of 
his journey across China in 1894. The French 
Political Resident, M. Haas, zealous for the 
greatness and the honour of his country, 

1 Sir Henry Yule in 1883. 

2 < Life of Lord Kandolph Churchill,' vol. i. p. 522. 


drew up and submitted to King Theebaw the 
articles of a secret treaty. Let me quote Dr 
Morrison's own words : — 

"By this treaty French influence was to become 
predominant in Upper Burma ; the country was to 
become virtually a colony of France, with a com- 
munity of interest with France, with France to support 
her in any difficulty with British Burma. Fortunately 
for us, French intrigue outwitted itself, and the 
Secret Treaty became known. It was in this 
way. Draft copies of the agreement, drawn up 
in French and Burmese, were exchanged between 
M. Haas and King Theebaw. But M. Haas could 
not read Burmese, and he distrusted the King. A 
trusted interpreter was necessary, and there was only 
one man in Mandalay that seemed to him sufficiently 

trustworthy. To Signor A , then, the Italian 

Charge* d'Affaires and manager of the Irrawadi Flot- 
illa Company, M. Haas went, and, pledging him to 
secrecy, sought his assistance as interpreter. 

"As M. Haas had done, so did his Majesty the 
King. Two great minds were being guided by the 
same spirit. Theebaw could not read French, and 
he distrusted M. Haas. An interpreter was essential, 
aud casting about for a trusted one, he decided that 

no one could serve him so faithfully as Signor A , 

and straightway sought his assistance as M. Haas had 
done. Their fates were in his hands ; which master 
should the Italian serve, the French or the Burmese ? 


He did not hesitate — he betrayed them both. Within 
an hour the Secret Treaty was in possession of the 
British Besident. Action was taken with splendid 
promptitude. M. de Freycinet, when pressed on the 
subject, repudiated any intention of acquiring for 
France a political predominance in Burma. An im- 
mediate pretext was found to place Theebaw in a 
dilemma ; eleven days later the British troops had 
crossed the frontier, and Upper Burma was another 
province of our Indian Empire." 1 

1 The whole of these details are omitted from the account 
of the annexation given in the ' Gazetteer of Upper Burma ' ; 
but they are undoubtedly correct. An interesting side-light 
is thrown upon the matter by Major E. C. Browne in a volume 
entitled 'The Coming of the Great Queen,' published in 1888. 
"Writing of the French intrigues which led to the action of 
Great Britain, he says : " Strangely enough, I think I know 
the source from which this wild enterprise sprang." He then 
describes how, when in Paris in 1880, he attended a meeting of 
" La Societe de Cochin-Chine." The meeting took place in the 
private apartments of a nobleman, and a paper was read upon 
Indo-Chinese affairs, followed by a somewhat constrained dis- 
cussion. The Society appeared to be "a sort of private In- 
telligence Department " which watched French interests in 
Indo-China, and " kept the Government coached up on the 
subject." The conclusion which he drew from his inquiries 
is summed up as follows : " I have often thought since that 
the feebly supported attempt to establish French influence at 
Mandalay was the outcome of this Society's investigations. 
The Government not improbably said to this body, ' If you can 
get a footing in Upper Burma without bringing us into conflict 
with England, we shall say you deserve well of your country.' " 


Defeated in her efforts to lay hold of Upper 
Burma, she turned her eyes towards Siam as 
the next most convenient field for imperial 
exploitation. Great Britain could not view 
with equanimity the prospect of a powerful 
neighbour establishing herself along her eastern 
frontier, uncontrolled and ill-defined as such 
frontier was, and consisting of an ill-assorted 
patchwork of little-known tribes whose pro- 
clivities would be only too likely to lie in the 
direction of crooked diplomacy and intrigue ; 
and being driven to action by the pressure of 
events, the Foreign Office fell back upon their 
panacea for every frontier ill — the creation of 
a buffer state. With this object in view, slices 
of her recently acquired Burmese territory were 
handed round to any one who could be found 
willing to take them, — China, as has already 
been recorded, receiving the state of Kiang 
Hung, and Siam being presented with the 
adjoining territory of Kiang Cheng. This ar- 
rangement served for a time, until the discov- 
ery was suddenly made by the explorers and 
historiographers of France that the rulers of 
Siam were in unlawful possession of territory 

A Burmese Pagoda. 



which of right belonged to France as the over- 
lord of Cochin China and Annam, resulting in 
a declaration by the French ambassador in 
London in the spring of 1893 that his Govern- 
ment claimed for Annam the whole of the 
country on the left bank of the Mekong — a 
declaration at which Lord Rosebery " could 
not conceal his surprise." 

The story of the subsequent operations be- 
tween France and Siam, which were brought 
to an abrupt conclusion by the appearance of 
two French gunboats at Bangkok, need not 
be retold here. The British Government had 
not the slightest intention of burning their 
fingers by intervening on behalf of Siam ; but 
with the collapse of that country before the 
determined attitude of France, French claims 
showed a disconcerting tendency to expand, 
and before the summer of 1893 was through, 
embraced the whole of the territory on the 
left bank of the Mekong, including conse- 
quently a portion of the state of Kiang Cheng 
already conditionally presented by Great Britain 
to Siam. Once more was there a flutter of 
excitement in the Foreign Office dovecot, and 


after declaring that "the approach of a great 
military Power like France to a frontier lying 
naked to attack could not be regarded with in- 
difference," Lord Dufferin succeeded — at no 
small sacrifice of territory and prestige — in 
securing the assent of France to the formation 
of a buffer state. A protocol embodying this 
proposition, and providing for the despatch of 
a commission to collect the data necessary for 
its geographical definition, was signed on July 
31st. The difficulties, however, in the way of 
bringing into being a satisfactory buffer state 
only grew as the question of its boundaries and 
its government were discussed, and the declara- 
tion of Lord Eosebery in October 1893 that, 
in the event of negotiations failing, the British 
Government would have to take " such measures 
as they might consider necessary for their own 
protection," followed as it was by a curt retort 
from the French representative to the effect 
that the integrity of Luang Prabang was of the 
highest interest to France, and that "neither 
the French Chamber nor French public opinion 
would tolerate its disintegration," showed how 


perilously near to the powder-magazine the 
match had come. 

The war - cloud fortunately blew by, the 
parties interested agreeing to postpone any 
definite decision as to mutual concessions to 
a later date, and it was not until 1896 — the 
commission arranged for under the terms of 
the protocol of July 1893 not having started 
until December 1894 — that the matter was 
finally adjusted. By an Agreement signed in 
that year by Lord Salisbury and the French 
ambassador in London, the integrity of the 
kingdom of Siam was guaranteed and the 
line of division between "the possessions or 
spheres of influence" of the two countries to 
the north of that state determined. By the 
boundary therein decided Great Britain ad- 
mitted the claims of France to the ownership 
of the Mong Hsing district of Kiang Cheng — 
an admission which was all the easier to make, 
as Lord Salisbury somewhat cynically remarked 
in forwarding a copy of the Agreement to the 
British ambassador in Paris, owing to "its 
extent and intrinsic value not being large," 


and because " on account of its unhealthy char- 
acter, it had no great attractions for Great 

By Article IV. of the same instrument, it was 
agreed that "all commercial and other privi- 
leges and advantages conceded in the two 
Chinese provinces of Yun-nan and Ssuch'uan, 
either to Great Britain or France, in virtue 
of their respective conventions with China, 
of March 1st, 1894, and June 20th, 1895, and 
all privileges and advantages of any nature 
which may in the future be conceded in these 
two Chinese provinces, either to Great Britain 
or to France, shall, as far as rests with them, 
be extended and rendered common to both 
Powers and to their nationals and dependents, 
and they engage to use their influence and 
good offices with the Chinese Government for 
this purpose." 

With the conclusion of this Agreement was 
closed a chapter of bitter diplomatic warfare 
in the history of Anglo - French relations. 
Hereafter the feelings of the two nations 
towards one another steadily improved, until 
in 1904 Lord Lansdowne was able to place 


a seal upon their friendship in the shape of 
the famous document known as the Anglo- 
French Agreement of April of that year, 
dealing with outstanding matters of difference 
between the two countries in all four quarters 
of the globe. A brief declaration with regard 
to Siam found a place in this momentous 
Agreement. Articles I. and II. of the Agree- 
ment of 1896, by which France and Great 
Britain undertook to refrain from any armed 
intervention or the acquisition of special privi- 
leges in the Siamese possessions which were 
included within the basin of the Menam river, 
were reaffirmed, and further extended to bring 
the understanding between the two Powers into 
line with the development of events which had 
taken place between 1896 and 1904. Both 
England and France had entered into Agree- 
ments with Siam — Great Britain with regard 
to the Malay Peninsula and France with regard 
to the Mekong valley, — the preponderating 
influence of Great Britain in the western and 
of France in the eastern portions of the Siamese 
dominions being tacitly recognised. This tacit 
understanding found documentary expression 


in the declaration concerning Siam included in 
the Agreement of 1904. the two Contracting 
Parties, while disclaiming all idea of annexing 
any Siamese teritory, declaring nevertheless 
by mutual agreement that " the influence of 
Great Britain shall be recognised by France 
in the territories situated to the west of the 
basin of the river Menam, and that the 
influence of France shall be recognised by 
Great Britain in the territories situated to 
the east of the same region, all the Siamese 
possessions on the east and south-east of the 
zone above described and the adjacent islands 
coming thus henceforth under French influence, 
and, on the other hand, all Siamese possessions 
on the west of this zone and of the Gulf 
of Siam, including the Malay Peninsula and 
the adjacent islands, coming under English 

A settlement of the Franco-Siamese frontier 
has been finally come to in a treaty signed 
between the two countries at Bangkok on 
March 23rd, 1907, the chief feature of which 
is the cession to France by Siam of the 
territories of Battambang, Siem - Reap, and 


Sisophon in return for the territories of Dan- 
Sai and Kratt, and all the islands situated 
to the south of Cape Lemling as far as. and 
inclusive of, Koh-Kut. 

All danger, then, of collision between Great 
Britain and France in this part of the world 
may be said to have been removed, and as 
regards that Power, as well as China, the 
making of the " Xorth-East Frontier " ma)" be 
said to be an accomplished fact. 




W Blackwood S= Soils. 



DS Zetland, Lawrence John 

710 Lumley Dundas 
Z4. A wandering student in 

v.l the Far East